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There’s a debate sweeping the reading world; it’s been slowly heating up for several years, and is now ready to erupt and rage through the community. Friendships will be lost, and money will be earned, all depending on the answer to the crucial question: what are you reading the books ON ?
If you thought, however, that the choice in the question is between paper and e-readers – you’re stuck in the deep technological past. That question is so 2010! And it’s already been answered. Paper is, for all intents and purposes, dying: it’s going to go the way of the vinyl, steam train and horse-drawn carriage. None of those things had disappeared completely from our lives, and neither will paper books, but they will remain a domain of hobbyists and devoted fans of vintage.
With that matter settled, the reading world has moved on to the next big question: e-ink or screen?
The death of e-ink has been, rather prematurely, announced several times over the years, with each new technological breakthrough. It was supposed to be killed by Pixel Qi (I don’t even remember what that was!) in 2010; by Kindle Fire in 2011; by the iPad Mini in 2012; by sales plunge in 2013; and most recently, by Fire Phone and the sad, but not unforeseen, demise of Nook. It seems that by remaining firmly in the e-ink camp, I am just as outdated and old-fashioned as those paperback retroists yearning for the smell of glue and rustle of paper.
And yet, for what it’s worth, the trusty Kindle remains my favourite and by far the most used gadget. No phone or tablet shares its advantages: it’s robust (try throwing your iPhone across the room!), cheap (no real fear of losing or having a gadget worth half a minimum wage stolen), lasts throughout the entire holidays on a single charge, can be read in sunlight, on a bus, in an airplane, with no fuss. Why would I ever chose to read on anything else?
The demographics quoted in that last article are clear and unsurprising: the young people prefer shiny things that can satisfy their short attention span by enabling them to do a thousand things at once – AND read books. I’m not old enough to not get that. But I think it’s wrong to transfer the young vote into the future prediction – in politics and market analysis. Young people don’t work – and they don’t have holidays. They don’t yet appreciate the real worth of things – and of their own time. Let’s see how they deal with having to charge all their devices every day when they are on two-weeks vacation with their family, and how comfortable they are with having a gadget bought with real money being stepped on by their kid…
But of course, by that time the gadget-makers will probably come up with something else, something that will make today’s tablets as obsolete as e-readers, apparently, are today; Kindle Eye Implants, maybe? And then it will be the time to pose another Big Reading Question…
Until then, what is your choice of a reading medium?