Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reading Devices as Rolexes for Readers

Passing through several airports over the last few weeks, I noticed more e-readers than I had ever seen before. I'm not sure if this is because e-readers are particularly useful when traveling, or if they are becoming more common, but they seemed to be everywhere I turned.

I still don't have one myself, and I can't think of a reason that would prompt me to buy one. As I think about the reading I'd like to do this summer, I don't see how having an e-reader would improve the experience. For example, I'd like to tackle Moby Dick for the first time, but I think if I had an e-reader I would get sucked into other, more seductive reading. I'd like to catch up on some back issues of The New Yorker and The Atlantic, but I can't see how a tablet would make that any faster, and the paper versions aren't that much of a hassle to carry. It would be nice not to have to lug so many children's books around, but I don't want to replace those with a device at this stage. Maybe if I was going on a week's vacation and wanted to take 15 beach novels, a tablet would help. Maybe if I wanted to call attention to what a big reader I was, I could embrace an e-reader. But for lack of these reasons, I think I can hold off.
And I can't help but wonder, are these devices going to succeed commercially for reasons related as much to social class than functionality?

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