Monday 10 November 2008

My changing reading habits: from A(nalogue) to E(lectronic)

The credit crunch has brought home to me how my reading habits have started to change, especially in respect to hard news. I buy The Guardian or The Times every day but my hunger for news from the blogosphere, from BBC correspondents to obscure US libertarians (read unhappy Republicans), is unsated. Get out more! Yes, I know I should but while I am not, I am going to carry on hunting and reading. Discovering a blog, maybe a gem that only a small number of people are reading, has a tragic equivalence with the under-the-bedclothes listening of the late John Peel Radio 1 show (10pm-midnight, Monday-Thursday in the late 1970s). I listened through hours of experimental dross just to catch that edgey, indie band that none of my mates might have heard of. Cassette tape in my Bush cassette tape radio recorder at the ready, great tracks would get recorded for later consumption and distribution. Today, Google Reader and Delicious are the modern equivalents of my cassette recorder for my news reading habits.

I am not sure I am ready to start reading novels electronically, but it will happen*. 2008, and the global banking/financial crisis in particular, mark a turning point; I am almost reading equally from analogue and electronic ones. UK newspapers have got up to speed on the web in such a comprehensive and efficient manner that I don't even have to buy their paper versions anymore. Even I would have thought this as sacrilegious a year ago, but it now seems like a saving worth making. Someone might be able to explain how they are monetising (as the business lingo goes) this web access but that is not something I have to worry about; I'm just enjoying the benefits. One immediate benefit is the slowing down of my annoying (to my wife) newspaper clipping habit.

*I've just looked at and caressed a Sony PRS-505 in a John Lewis store. This is one of the market leaders in eReaders. An eReader is a small, book-like computer that can store (e)books and all other kinds electronic reading matter. The pages have this disarmingly dead white un-screen like feel to them. I had to touch them just see it wasn't actually paper! There are still loads of questions about their functional purpose that remain unanswered, like for instance, if you are not an academic why would you need to store 160 books on one device? But that's probably just early techno-philistinism creeping in on my part. I loved it and it will fit down my chimney, Santa.

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