A library in the palm of your hand.
Jose Santa Clara, Autohagiographer
by Joseph T. Sinclair
People don’t like to read on their computers. Discomfort! People use desktop computers sitting in a chair viewing a monitor on a desk. This is a working position. Although laptops are more flexible in regard to positioning one’s body for reading, they are still large and bulky, designed more for working than for comfortable reading.
Tablets, however, are at least as comfortable as printed books. Full-size (10-inch) tablets are a little larger than most books but nonetheless have only one viewable page, not two. You can use them easily in almost any comfortable body position. Mini-tablets (7-inch) are about the same size as the average book but again have only one page. The size and configuration of tablets facilitate comfortable reading at least as much as books do. Indeed, this characteristic is one of their major features.
Don’t overlook smartphones. It turns out that people read on their phones more than on their tablets. And phones are the ultimate conveient device for facilitating reading anywhere and everywhere.
Consider also the storage bonus. Each summer I go to a home away from home for two months and lug three full boxes of books with me. Each year the books get heavier and the gas to transport them gets more expensive. At home with five floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, I have run out of space for books and have an additional four full boxes of books in my office—more in my garage. At my summer place, where there are no bookshelves, I stack the books on the floor. After the summer of 2013, I decided, no more printed books.
The Kindle holds hundreds of ebooks. Tablets and phones can hold many more depending on how much memory one wants to buy. Memory cost much less than bookshelves and takes up no room. Tablets and phones seem destine to free up tens of millions of square feet of floor space now devoted to bookshelves.
But books are cheap, and tablets are expensive. Not so! Tablets are not even five years old, and a new Kindle Fire (216 ppi, amazing resolution) is only $139.
But from a poverty standpoint $139 is remains expensive. That might be. Nevertheless, most original tablet owners trade up for newer models and flood the preowned (used) market with plenty of nice quality tablets available at a low cost (e.g., $40 on eBay). There is no shortage of tablets for anyone, rich or poor, who wants one. Already more than half of US households own at least one tablet.
As for smartphones, about one billion people use them, a figure that’s estimated to grow to four billion in just a few more years.
Tablets and phones facilitate comfort and space-saving convenience. If you don’t own a tablet now, you will soon. And you probably already read on your phone. The reduced cost of books (i.e., ebooks) for poor people who acquire tablets and phones will facilitate a boom in learning and literacy.
Indeed, smartphones and tablets will facilitate a new age of reading, spreading Gutenberg’s moveable type to every person on earth.