Where Do People Read eBooks?

“Read Everywhere” is one of the taglines for the Amazon Kindle, specifically referring to its portability. And hey, I love the Kindle for that reason.

This did however to prompt me to wonder about how we think of eBooks in relation to the devices that we read them on. For some people, could they be reduced to one and the same thing? There’s some sentiment towards making devices like the Kindle more book-like, and I have to wonder if the portability of our reading devices is changing the way people think about what eBooks are. Sure, they’re a digital form of the words that we’d also find within a printed book. But now we have devices that we seem want to treat more and more like printed books — the way that we hold them, or the way that devices display a turn of the page (From The New York Times Bits Blog, “Turning the Page on the Page Turn”).

Printed books are one of the most remarkable inventions of information technology, ever. Printed books are meant to endure, whereas digital reading devices, with their inevitable cycle of planned obsolescence, stand in stark contrast. The veritable industry of iPad/Kindle/etc. cases (several of which have some serious blingitude) shows how much we worry about protecting our gadgets. After all, there’s a considerable difference between getting a paperback wet and getting an iPad or Kindle wet. As in, the difference between kind of ruined and really ruined.

Some related thoughts on reading everywhere with eBooks:

* Oops, so much for that one about the iPad camera.


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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