ARE the days of the book numbered? The rise of iPads and Kindles have meant we are living in a society where books and writing are becoming less popular, with more shops making the most of their high-tech alternatives.

After hitting the shelves a few years ago, tablets are now everywhere.

A number of schools in the south of the county have been providing pupils with iPads.

North Crescent Primary School, in Wickford, bought 32 of the devices in 2012 so youngsters could use them in everything from maths to music.

Headteacher Lisa Wright thinks books and tablets can work together.

She said: “We have a responsibility to educate children for the 21st century and everything we do is linked in some way to technology.

“However, a balance must be found between this kind of learning and speaking, listening and writing. Some children are very comfortable on the iPads, but some are not.

“In an ever-changing work environment we need to come up with fresh ideas how to teach and interact with the children.

The iPads are a great help.”

Terry Flitman, headteacher at Wickford Junior School, in Market Road, has bought 16 iPads, but will soon be doubling the number. They will also be getting some Kindle e-readers for the school library.

He said: “A healthy mixture is crucial. I would hate to see books go, but we are always looking for innovative ways to teach. It is great for some subjects, and there are so many apps to help different needs.

“We are looking to help our impaired learners with the new equipment.”

It is not just schools using new technology to do the job.

They are also proving popular with councils looking to cut down on paper.

Castle Point Council has supplied all its councillors with a top-of-the-range iPad Air so they can e-mail constituents and read agendas at the touch of a button.

It claims the move will save the authority thousands of pounds.

However, one historian has reservations about whether the digital age will last.

Andrew Summers, of Essex Hundred Publications, said it is essential old books and cuttings are preserved.

He said: “The serious digital age has only been with us for 25 years, whereas print or written papers have been around for maybe 1,000 years, so even with the best will in the world and expense no object, a long time will be needed to get everything digitalised.”

Mr Summers added Essex Hundred Publications sold a record amount of children’s books last year.

He said: “Interaction with devices is all well and good, but interaction with people is essential too. Teachers still use books for class discussion and class interaction.

“There seems to be an evergrowing addiction for children age six to 14 to devices like the Xbox and games on their smart phone.

“However the same thing applies to adults too, especially the ever increasing reliance on satnavs that seems to be destroying all map reading skills and everybody’s sense of direction.

“So let us hope that, like our teachers and councillors, the origins of what we have learned will never truly leave us.”