shift happened 03.23.2011, 11:44 PM
I do my reading almost exclusively on screen. I've got a kindle, an ipad, an iphone, a blackberry, and a laptop, but this weekend, I did something radical and old school, I checked a big thick book out of the library and attempted to read it.
This is going to sound incredibly lazy, like someone who gets in their car to drive a few blocks rather than walk, but the physicality of the book, having to hold it open then lift and turn each page, was a lot more exhausting than I remembered. All of that holding and lifting and turning distracted me from the act of reading, took me out of the story if you will. A few pages into it I gave up, logged in to Amazon, and bought the Kindle book.
Like many people, I've romanticized the feeling of paper books, so I was surprised at how easily I spurned the one used to love. I've been watching the evolution of reading devices for the last seven years, but it was the experience I had with this library book that made me realize that the shift is no longer about to take place, it has taken place. Other readers are switching allegiance from paper to screen as quickly and irreversibly as I did. What does this mean for the publishing industry? For bookstores? For libraries? How will they reinvent themselves to attract screen-smitten readers?