reading and writing


part of my overflowing library

There was a report this week on CBC Spark about reading methods, paper books and electronic book reading, skimming and deep reading, which made me pause and think about my reading habits these days.

I read paper books, I read on my iPad2, I read newspapers on the iPad2 (principally The New York Times, the only paper i pay for), and i read the free copy of the Toronto Star at the McCafe in Midland, Ontario, when it is available and when it has not been stolen. Nice to have literate, news hungry thieves in my community.

I have subscribed to Scribd which offers “unlimited book downloads” for $8.95 per month.  This appears to be a genuine bargain with quality books available.  I bought a Sony E-Reader and bought about 50 books from the Sony Reader Store.  This was attractive because Sony adopted a wider open policy to support a wide format of ebook formats. The books i bought from them I could read on the reader and also my Windows PCs.  iBooks do not run anywhere other than an iPad, certain iPods or I suppose an iPhone.  i also bought books from the iBook Store and read them exclusively on the iPad2. i don’t have much choice in that matter.  The Sony Store is ended, Sony gave up and arranged for their book clients to move over to Kobo. At the same time Sony announced it was getting out of the laptop business.  A black day indeed.

As a reader, a little about me.  i still remember with excitement suitable to burst a balloon walking into my local public library early in Grade 8 with a form autographed by my teacher so I might obtain an adult library reader’s card for the George H. Locke Library at Yonge St. and Lawrence Ave. in Toronto.  I read voraciously through high school. At St. Michael’s College at University of Toronto, i studied English Literature and Film Studies.  For 25 years I worked as a technical writer which involved as well a great deal of reading. Eclectic reader you bet.  I used to regularly read Air International, its neutral, calm, technical style I found strangely relaxing. History, fiction, poetry.  And many more reading areas.

i have noticed a “wall” in my reading duration these days.  What I mean is I pick up a book read five pages or less and want to stop.  I feel compelled to pick up my tablet and look at something else.  Fragmented concentration.

Some books on the tablet let me in and keep me rolling for many, many pages.  These seem to be well written thrillers, aka “page turners.” I have slowly been working my way through The Selling of the President about the 1960 US Presidential Campaign but have only made it through fify odd pages.  On the other hand, the latest volume of Robert Caro’s LBJ biography I finished in a handful of days.

So I am straddled in the transition from paper books to electronic books.  I am experimenting with trying to extend my reading time comfort zone by heading out with just one book.  Perhaps it will let me disappear for hours into that lone book. It is an interesting time to be a reader.  A transition of immense proportion which will lead us we know not where.  It is a shame McLuhan is not around to see the transition in reading, and the shift in importance from television to the Web and all things digital.  What would he “probe’ and what would he speculate?  His central notion was that changes in technology had enormous and unsuspected changes on us, their consumers.  He wrote about the change from print media to television.

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