Friday, March 9, 2012

eReaders don't want you to read eBooks.

You guys, I love the internet!

I went on the Atlantic website to read an article about Amazon this week and found a link to another article responding to this piece from the New York Times: "Finding your book interrupted... by the tablet you read it on."

It is such a good article. Citing a single survey of publishers showing that a decreasing number believed that multipurpose tablets were ideal for reading ebooks, and a few quotes from publishers and general readers, the article tells us that it is harder than ever to pay attention to what you're reading because tablets offer too many distractions. Those minxy iPads and Kindle Fires "tempt" us with too many more interesting apps and emails and other alternatives to book reading. While they quote one reader who finds the struggle to pay attention to a book a kind of welcome challenge, and one publisher who thinks multipurpose tablets encourage ebooks for people who might not normally purchase a single-purpose ereader, the general sentiment is that tablets make it too hard to get into the "reading experience."

While the comments section of the article, as well as the Atlantic piece of hilarity: "Books on paper fight analog distractions," point out that this is not the most scientific of behavioral findings, there are a number of commentators (and the subjects from the NYT article) who are strongly on the side that tablets are too distracting. That reading is not the "same immersive experience" on a digital reader as it is in paper, etc. As I continue to follow publishing news, I find it's the same argument in the comments sections over and over: "I like books on paper that I can touch/I like being able to carry a thousand books in my hand." So, I encourage you to go over and watch the eternal argument play out.

But my favorite part of this is the guy that they're quoting saying that his tablet is too distracting for reading, saying he gets distracted by all the apps, which are just "beg[ging] you to review them all the time."


Is that a thing? Do people spend hours and hours reviewing apps? Is that a popular activity of which I have been mercifully ignorant for years? I have a Kindle, and iPhone, a PC, etc., I feel like I am "with it," so to speak. I am unaware of this "app reviewing" black hole that people get sucked into. I mean, what happens when you start reviewing "review" apps? Like when you review the Yelp app? And then someone reviews your review of that review app? Okay, maybe this could be interesting...

See, I feel like that is not a real thing. I feel like maybe he means "using" his apps, or "reading" emails. And I think that miss-spoken phrase is symptomatic of the problem with this article, which is that some people are going to read books all the way through and some people are going to get distracted. Some people are going to prioritize their tablet so that they're not jumping from app to app, and some people are going to get distracted "reviewing" all of them. And sometimes you're one of those people, and sometimes you're the other; everyone gets distracted when they're reading, whether its on an iPad or a paperback book. Everyone gets distracted when they're working, when they're talking on the phone, and even when they're driving. I got distracted from reading one article by reading another article, which distracted me from writing one blog post to writing an entirely separate blog post. It's the "immersive experience" of life, and perhaps, ultimately, not the most newsworthy of news items.

Happy Friday, guys!

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