Poor reading experience
Hettler may be broadening reading horizons, but some people worry that new technologies will diminish the classic reading experience.
Where as printed texts are often linear paths paved by the author chapter by chapter, digital books encourage readers to click here or tap there, launching them on side journeys before they even reach the bottom of a page.
Some scholars fear that this is breeding a generation of readers who won't have the attention span to get through The Catcher in the Rye, let alone Moby-Dick.
"Reading well is like playing the piano or the violin," said the poet and critic Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "It is a high-level cognitive ability that requireslong-term practice."
"I worry that those mechanisms in our culture that used to take a child and have him or her learn more words and more complex syntax are breaking down," Gioia said.
Short attention spans aren't always a bad thing
But Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said it was a mistake to conclude that young people learned less simply because "they are flitting around all over the place" as they read.
"Kids are reading and writing more than ever," he said. "Their lives are all centered around words."
Dr. Gary Small, director of the Center on Aging at UCLA and author of iBrain, said Internet use activated more parts of the brain than reading a book did.
On the other hand, online readers often demonstrate what Small calls "continuous partial attention" as they click from one link to the next. The risk is that we become mindless ants following endless crumbs of digital data.
"People tend to ask whether this is good or bad," he said. "My response is that the tech train is out of the station, and it's impossible to stop."