The New York Times Looks at iPhone Reading

Motoko Rich, who is second to Hillel Italie on my list of Reporters of Whom I am a Quietly Squeeing Fangirl, wrote an article for The New York Times that examined the use of iPhones and iPod Touch devices as reading tools. The article was titledLibrary in a Pocket , and quoted me talking about my use of both the iPhone and the Kindle during my commute:

Indeed, Sarah Wendell, an administrative assistant in Manhattan who blogs about romance novels, said that although she used the iPhone to read while on a coffee or lunch break, she still used her Kindle during her one-hour commute from New Jersey.

For long reading sessions, she said, the iPhone is “a small screen, and my eyes would start to hurt, even though I crank the text up to grandma or great-grandma size.”

Author Shannon Stacey and fellow blogger Keishon Tutt of Avid Book Reader were also quoted, though my look at the iPhone as a reader counters theirs. They prefer one device that does everything and like reading on the iPhone.

“These e-readers that cost a lot of money only do one thing,” said Keishon Tutt, a 37-year-old pharmacist in Texas who buys 10 to 12 books a month to read on her iPhone, from Apple. “I like to have a multifunctional device. I watch movies and listen to my songs.”

People once scoffed at the idea of reading a book on a 3.5-inch mobile screen. For many readers, though, sheer convenience trumps everything else.

“The iPod Touch is always at hand,” Shannon Stacey, who has written several romance e-novels, said. “It’s my calendar, it’s my everything, so my books are always with me.” Ms. Stacey, who also owns an early Sony Reader model, said she had now bought twice as many e-books for her iPod Touch as for her Sony.

Me, I don’t like it as much. For one thing, the iPhone is so small it hurts my eyes after awhile, and for another, I prefer to have one device that does one thing for reading. With so much other stuff on board a device, I’m more likely to be distracted. Reading is a complete cessation of multi-tasking for me, and I like the single-use device for that purpose. Reading, as I’ve said before, is the one time I do only one thing, and I have to guard that reading sanctuary.

Of course, I bought the Kindle refurbished and used a few gift cards to bring the cost down; without those factors I wouldn’t have paid that much for Kindle II: Matzoh Man. Well, that and the part where my Sony 700 is falling apart.



General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    rebyj says:

    I can’t afford an e-reader (yet) but do have a 8gb ipod touch. It has been worth the purchase price!  I use it for many things including reading ebooks I otherwise wouldn’t have read.

    I have the stanza app with several books on it and I have the kindle app with MANY books on it. Some of the books are freebies offered by Amazon.  I read in the home, at doctor appointments, riding in the car etc. It’s great for when I hear about a book I want to read and I can buy it from Amazon and have it in my hot lil hands within seconds.

  2. 2
    JamiSings says:

    As a migraine sufferer I don’t like ereading devices at ALL. I have to take frequent breaks from the computer as it is otherwise I end up in screaming pain. (My migraines are part hormonal, part because my pupils are larger then a normal person’s and therefore I take in more light then normal. I see great “in the dark” but pay for it by not being able to read ebooks.)

    And I like things that only do one thing. My cellphone should only make and receive phone calls, my iPod only play music, etc.

  3. 3
    RB says:

    I haven’t used my actual Kindle in months… or read an actual print book.  I pretty much use my iphone kindle exclusively.  I have spent WAY too much money on books this year!  I have found some great authors though.

  4. 4
    Meezergrrrl says:

    I’ve been reading on my iPod Touch/iPhone when I’m on the go – errands, the dr’s office, and the like.

    When I’m on travel, however, I really prefer to read on my Sony 300 (and the 700 before I got the 300) for the same reason Sarah mentions above:  it’s time out of time where I’m not multitasking.

    BTW – my 700 tried to start falling apart on one of my trips this past summer.  The trim got out of line with the case.  I wound up taking all the screws out (some of which are hidden – like in the holes for the cover), and was able to pop the case back together.  I now keep work related documentation and PDFs on the 700 and my personal stuff on the 300.

    As for what to do going forward…  I really would like the sync’ing capabilities of the iPhone/Kindle combination.  But I actually own more eReader titles than Mobi or Kindle titles, and the Nook is looking ever so sparkly. And then there’s my husband squawking “3!  You’ll have bought 3 digital readers!” (Despite the fact that the man is a serial guitar buyer…)

    If only I could make up my mind… (and the amazing thing about this statement, is that 2.5 years ago, making up my mind couldn’t even be an issue because there were so few devices out there.)

    Alas… I meander.

  5. 5
    Lisa#2 says:

    I’m becoming a dedicated iPod touch ebook reader. I love having one device that does so much. If I could justify the monthly cost I would have jumped at the iPhone long ago. I’m 44 but reading on the small screen still isn’t a problem for me and after the first few books I’ve gotten used to reading on a small screen and the frequent page turning doesn’t even register anymore.  I will say that it has been a long time since I set foot in a bookstore. I do miss that part of my book love.

  6. 6
    Veronica says:

    I don’t have a Kindle, although it would be nice.  I do read books on my little Blackberry curve.  The screen size doesn’t bother me, and I like that I always have the phone with me.  I have an Ipod Classic that has all sorts of room for videos and music, but I never seem to have it with me.  I fear that would be the same with the kindle.

    That said, I usually have books on the Blackberry as a backup to whatever print copy I am carrying around.  I need to look into what my local library is providing in Mobi format (that’s what I use on the Blackberry).

    To me, having multiple options and formats rocks. I hope they continue to co-exist.  I can’t imagine an eReader in my bubble bath!

  7. 7
    Joy says:

    I lost my Sony 505 in July and got an iPhone in Sept.  If I still had my Sony, I’d never read on the iPhone.  The screen is too small, it’s weird to hold, and I loved eInk.

    I have a few books I’m reading using Stanza and Kindle for iPhone but I always have a print book with me now.  Here’s hoping my family remembers my Christmas request.

  8. 8
    Tae says:

    I plan on buying a new apple laptop next year and usually they throw in a free itouch with it (at least they did this year – the 8gig touch) and I figure that’s when I’ll try using the touch to read..but otherwise I love my sony 505 and i’m glad that I got in while they were still making the 505.  I’m not too thrilled with the 600 or 700 series.

    I expect that I’ll love my sony still over the touch, but the touch will fit into my little bike bag and my sony will not.  Also, I can lend the sony to my husband finally.

  9. 9
    Ursula says:

    After moving to a larger house to hold so many books, and then physically moving books, we bought a Kindle. We still buy print, but the Kindle is IT. You get what you want when you want and can adjut the print. I’m looking at the Nook as the next house E reader (DH and I share, though he’s reading much more right now). Reading on my blackberry isn’t bad, but for an entire book, I’m not crazy for it. I have good eyes and want to keep them that way. I still buy a ton of my categories in paper, not sure why, but come next year I’m making more commitement to switch to electronic reading. At the very least, I know I save a few trees. And at the most, I know supporting most authors via e puts more cash in their pocket.

  10. 10
    SheaLuna says:

    I have the same problem as JamiSings.  I am also a migraine/tension headache sufferer (though for different reasons) and I can’t read much more than a blog posting on screen before I need a break.  There is NO WAY I could read an entire book on screen without getting a screaming headache.  I love the idea that e-books save trees.  I love the fact that e-books put more money in writers’ pockets.  I love the idea of having a single device that holds 300 books I can carry around in my purse, but it just ain’t gonna happen.  Not unless they can create a screen that is eyeball friendly.

  11. 11
    Karenmc says:

    I go back and forth between ebooks on my Touch and dead tree books. I love the Touch and have no trouble with my eyes. I’ve cut way, way back on buying books that take up space in my small house, too.

  12. 12

    One of the things I also said: When it comes to big, curl-up-and-read books, like Gabaldon’s massive An Echo in the Bone, I buy it for the Sony. Because:

    1) If you take lighting out of the equation, the Sony’s screen admittedly offers a superior reading experience. (But since I read in crappy lighting a lot and bright sunlight hardly ever, I prefer the backlit iPod for the majority of my reading.)

    2) iPod Touch ADD. While I do prefer the iPod for reading, I’ve become aware that my reading experiences are slightly (okay, a lot) more fractured. Read a page, check Twitter, check email, read three pages, check Twitter, read a page…and so it goes. The singlemindedness of the Sony allows me to really immerse myself in a book.

    And if I want to buy ebooks directly from eHarlequin and not a 3rd-party vendor, I have to use the Sony because Harlequin doesn’t offer a format for the iThings.

    #1 reason I still turn to the iPod first: I’ve yet to find a way to comfortably hold the Sony and turn the pages one handed. It’s an awkward size/set-up.

  13. 13
    Kristina says:

    I thought about getting the iPod touch for reading ebooks.  Toys R Us has an awesome price for them this Black Friday.  But unless it plays music and will let me read at the very same time i’m not into it.  I’m a closet ADD sufferer (sp?) and must always have music going while i’m reading or I’ll have the TV on in the background.  I commute on public trans myself and I can totally see myself with one gadget playing music and the other in my hand while I’m reading.

    Personally I just made the decision yesterday that I was going to buy a Nook ASAP.  I’ve let everyone in my circle or friends and family know that I want B&N gift cards for Christmas and Bday.  Hopefully that will take a dent out of the cost for me.


  14. 14
    Joy says:

    #1 reason I still turn to the iPod first: I’ve yet to find a way to comfortably hold the Sony and turn the pages one handed. It’s an awkward size/set-up.

    I find this interesting.  I had no prob holding my 505 one handed and flipping pages but paging on the iPhone annoys me to no end.

  15. 15

    Kristina, the Nook does look cool, but just so you know, I can listen to music while I read on the iPod Touch. (I don’t, but I just checked and I could if I wanted to.)

    When I hold it one-handed, in either hand, my thumb is too far from the page-turning buttons and I end up almost dropping it trying to shift my thumb. For some reason, it’s a two-handed operation for me.

  16. 16

    I read just about everything on my iphone now – except when the (insert expletive) publisher enforces (insert expletive) geographical restrictions and won’t let me buy the book – such as what happened yesterday when I tried to buy Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten. Does it matter I live in Australia? Does it????

  17. 17
    Kristina says:

    Good to know Shannon.  I’ll have to hit T”r” US next Friday and check it out.  FYI, they are advertising $195 for the 8G with a $50 R’r”US gift card included in purchase.

  18. 18

    Totally agree about not wanting to read on small screens.  E-ink are the future (and the present?) – it just looks so good and it’s so easy to carry your collection around.  When will libraries start letting us check out books on our electronic readers?

  19. 19

    When will libraries start letting us check out books on our electronic readers?

    You can get library ebooks for the Sony through Overdrive…if your library participates. Right now it seems limited to big cities, and none in my state (NH) do.

    I asked my librarian about it because my library offers audio books through Overdrive already. She says it’s something the librarians and the State have looked into, but it’s not likely to happen any time soon for two primary reasons:

    1.  Cost. It’s very expensive and the demand just isn’t there yet (mine was the first inquiry for library ebooks and my library serves two towns totaling @ 8000 people). Offering the audio books is expensive enough, but the State underwrites it, with participating libraries chipping in a yearly fee. We have a lot of commuters (the southern half of NH is practically a bedroom community for Boston) and audiobooks are in high demand. Plus, the mp3’s gone mainstream and people are pretty comfortable with the technology.

    2.  The technology. I guess during a big meeting, it came up and when the talk turned to formats and devices and DRM, it was met with a resounding oh HELL no from the librarians. They have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to get comfortable enough with the hellish world of digital reading to guide their patrons through it.

    Once the devices are all debuted and everybody offers DRM-free ePub (no, don’t hold your breath), they might consider it.

    (And pardon my rambling if that was a rhetorical question. *g*)

  20. 20

    Only half-theoretical!  Reminds me of the film Dr. Strangelove: “They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought.”  Thanks, Shannon!

  21. 21

    I’ve never seen that, but I should rent it. I’d probably like the writing. :)

  22. 22
    Keishon says:

    I also mentioned having a Sony Reader that I do use for really long books but yes, I prefer a multi-functional device, always. But for reading and lounging in my house? My Sony Reader will suffice.

  23. 23

    From a writer’s perspective: reading print galleys on Sony Reader=WIN! (And tax deduction!)

    But I’ve also found that, if I buy the book from the Sony store, it’s beautiful. But the PDF books I buy from eHQN, with their goat-sucking ADE, drive me mental. The font is so small I can’t tell if it’s a book page or if the screen’s really dusty. And if I enlarge the text, it screws up paragraph breaks and leaves big gaping white holes I have to flip past.

    Given a choice between blindness and madness, I usually reach for the iPod and read something else.

  24. 24
    thetroubleis says:

    I love reading on my Kindle. No backlighting equals no headaches.

  25. 25
    Jeduhu says:

    I travel to much to find the books I want to read, but with my Iphone I can easily download what I want, when I want, anywhere.  Yes, it’s tiring to read on the small device, yes… after HOURS it hurts my eyes but I always have my book … in my pocket.  So it’s a trade off, if I had the money or the time I would use as suggested above a book at home, my iphone on the go.  But for now… I used the iphone. You get used to it.

  26. 26

    The Iphone is A pretty awesome phone. Aside from the touch screen feature it has a gps system which hopefully through updates will be from turn to turn which will save you from buying he navigation products they sell in stores. Also there are many Applications available in the Apple App store that are actually useful. One of my favourite ones allows me to find a name of a song thats on the radio or just playing somewhere.

  27. 27
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