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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Latest In Mobile Reading

I had to laugh. I think it was last week when I was scanning through my daily dose of RSS feeds that I caught the term "the latest in mobile reading" -- of course I got all excited and was ready to dig into the details to learn all that I could about some new mobile reading device.

Then I paused and thought about it.  And yes, that's when I laughed at myself.

Here I was getting all excited about some hot new technology that would allow me to do something as exciting as carry a book around with me virtually anywhere.  I mean, I already have that technology resting on my hip in my iPhone -- I'm completely content to read books on the iPhone screen -- and yet, every time a new mobile reading device is announced I check it out, like some young child hungrily consuming the increase of toy advertisements on television during the approach of the Christmas season.

Photo: "Reading on the Beach" by cmcgough (flickr)

And yet, despite my fascination with the new technology, there's nothing all that new about being able to go mobile when reading.

Books have, for over 100 years, been mobile.  Of course, the invention of the mass market paperback in the 1930's revolutionized publishing and made books even more portable and mobile. (And yeah, I can't resist the already tired old joke about their "battery life" being incredibly beyond anything we've ever seen). 

After all, once of the most important things I pack on every single trip I take (or have taken for as long as I can remember) is a book (or two) to read.  The new mobility enabled in ebook reading devices, of course, means that without compromising packing space, I can now carry a lot more books.  Except I find that though I'm always packing a half dozen ebooks on me, I usually also bring at least one physical book.  Sometimes it's because it's not available in ebook format, for the convenience of it "always being on" or perhaps just because it's a life-long habit of mine.

So it's funny that we're using a term like "mobile reading" to refer not to a technology that has been around for multiple generations, but to something that is only recently emerging; and that when you see the term, you think only of the new technology.

Funny how times have changed and a new term can be born despite the fact that the activity of being able to "go mobile" and read has been with us a long long time. 

(Blog Flashback - speaking of mobile devices, check out my musings back in May 2006 about mobile audio from a few years back called "Kewl Dude Portable Listening Device." which I wrote shortly after purchasing my first mp3 player)

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