reading a book on a tiny screen

A lot has been made of how technology is changing our society, how we think, and how we read. I haven’t been known to delve very deeply into these issues (although I know some who do, ahem, Mike). But reading the occasional article on the nefarious, alternatively wonderful, role of Technology in our modern lives is pretty inescapable.

A case in point, I just read an engaging article in the New Yorker on the author’s experience trying out the Kindle. (I hope everyone knows what the Kindle is. I’m not explaining.) A lot has been made of the fact that it’s ‘just not the same’ as reading a real book. I don’t have a strong stance either way, except that I’m pretty much ready to give any format a chance if reading is involved… especially if it makes reading easier in more situations.

This article mentions that ebooks on the iPhone and iPod Touch generally don’t have the same elementary problems as the Kindle (meaning, they’re smart enough to show pictures and tables and to give enough contrast between page and text), which reminded me that I’ve never tried reading anything other than news articles on my iPhone Touch (and news is boring). To remedy this, I downloaded the Classics app (which everyone with an iPhone/ iPod Touch should get immediately– for $1 you get about 15 classic works of fiction, from The Odessey to Pride and Prejudice), and am currently reading Alice in Wonderland on a 4.5 x 2.5 screen. This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But, in fact, it is great. I feel self-conscious if I read a hardcover book on the bus (have you noticed how huge they are? I bet you would if you were squashed between two people on a crowded bus), which is why I prefer paperbacks. But compared to the iPhone Touch, even paperbacks are cumbersome. They don’t fit in the palm of your hand, do they?

And it shouldn’t sound too ridiculous, right, because we’ve had teeny tiny prayer books since the dawn of book-time. You all know what I’m talking about. So what if only 20 words fit on each page? You get to turn the pages faster! You know you always want to turn the pages really fast.

By the bye, why am I only now, at the ripe old age of 23, reading Alice in Wonderland? Does everyone know that it’s hilarious? Do you want to take bets on whether I’ll read The Odessey in full on my iPhone Touch?

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