Thursday, 29 May 2014

Reading in the Age of the iPad


You might have noticed my book reading throughput has plunged in the past six months. Not that I was ever reading as many books as I'd like to, but now I'm reading even less. What has happened during these months? I got myself an iPad that's always with me, that's what.
Whereas the previous three years were spent with a Kindle device that would do books very well and not much else, now the books are facing stiff competition. The key thing about the iPad is that it doesn't do just one thing, it does many; and by doing many things on a single platform, it invites further focusing. As in, whereas before I would read paper magazines and conduct my work using paper written notes, now I'm paper averse. I don't want to carry anything other than my iPad. Lucky for me, and unlucky for the books, the iPad happily complies.
This leaves me in a world where my RSS reader, Twitter, news, magazines, comics, games and the whole goddamn web are always at my fingertips. At first there was a shock, but with time some order seems to have firmly established itself: the RSS gains top priority; Twitter is good when I only have little time but want to quickly know what's the latest going ons in the world; magazines seem to be my preferred weekend reading material; news are skimmed through regularly in the morning (seriously, Twitter is so much better for news); and games, well, who's got time for them?
Between all of the above, there is very little time left for books. It's books that suffer the most because they are virtually the only reading material that is immune to ageing. All the rest expire: a magazine will be replaced by the next issue and news comes in and goes on an hourly basis. But the books, they just stay there.
So where do books fit in to my schedule? There's my train rides to work, where elusive 3G means Internet applications are a waste of time, and there is the occasional lunch with the iPad. But that's it. The result? I read during almost every bit of spare time that I get, it's just that it's usually not books that I am reading.


Image by alex lang, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence

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