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 ofÂ 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:
On that topic, remember Jeff Bezos’ advice for people who want to use their Kindles in the bathtub? Try a Ziploc bag. Or you can buy this thing for $79.99, (link courtesy of Fake Steve Jobs) which liberates readers so that they “can read in places they wouldnâ€™t dare bring a book, but always wanted to.” That sounds tempting.
The Economist has a little column about that gray area the Kindle occupies between book/device — especially when it comes to reading on airplanes.
And here’s a humorous offeringÂ on The “Official” iPad etiquette FAQ, courtesy of Wired, tackling those all-important questions such as, Can I use my iPad at the dinner table? (“No. If Steve Jobs had wanted you to use your iPad at the table, he would have put a camera in it so you could take pictures of your future poo and upload them to Foodspotting“).*
According to the LA Times and some research at UCLA, we may want to think twice about reading with that back-lit screen of the iPad just before bedtime.
Proof that there is always something to write about: a couple of evolutionary biology and cognitive psychology theories about why it’s weird to use your iPad in the bathroom. Did we really need to ask?
Here’s one of the better lists I’ve found of the eBook apps currently out there. (“Best eBook Apps of 2010: A Literary Mixtape“).Â While reading on that small of a screen isn’t my first choice, reading eBooks on Android phones and iPhones has its appeal, its main virtue being that the phone-as-reading device is always with you. Need to make a boring task less boring? Just bust out the Infinite Jest app.
*Â Oops, so much for that one about theÂ iPad camera.