Thursday, 26 June 2014

E-readers are (probably) dying

E-readers, as in dedicated devices for reading content are on the way out.

How do I know this - well, just by looking about. I’ve occassionally blogged about people’s reading habits on public transport in Canberra and even Singapore, but yesterday I was in Sydney for a meeting, and did something I hardly ever do these days - caught a peak hour train. The train was one from the CBD out past the airport to whereever the train goes once it’s past the airport, and being peak hour it was pretty full.

In between gawking at the sunset over the the Harbour Bridge (tip: try Circular Quay station at sunset for an excellent view) I looked around at my fellow passengers. The train car was pretty full and around three quarters of the people were reading something. A few oldies with paperbacks, but everyone else was using a tablet or a smartphone. Interestingly, young people of Asian experience seemed to mostly read on smartphones, while their western counterparts seemed to prefer 7” tablet. (I agree, they could be doing something else, but of those I could see clearly, what ever they were doing involved screenfuls of characters - which kind of looks like reading to me)

No one I could see was reading using kindle or other like e-ink grey screen device.

Now, e-readers have many virtues - especially Kindles - buy your book and it lands on your reader as soon as you have a wireless connection - long battery life and the rest - in fact they are very good at what they do. Proof of the pudding is that as well as my kindle I still use my Cool-er for reading public domain books from gutenberg as part of my unarticulated informal research into the nineteenth century colonial experience. Yes, of course I could use my kindle for this, but having two readers on the go means I can separate reading for interest from reading for fun - a bit like having two books on the go at once.

And I’m sure that a great many people will carry on using their readers, but if you’re carrying one device round with you, you’re more likely to carry a tablet, because of its versatility …

Written with StackEdit.

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