Sunday, July 08, 2012

Mark Hubbard on the difficulty of reading on an iPad versus Kindle

Reading by Capitalism: Kindle versus the Femme Fatale iPad - Mark Hubbard

To shamelessly run with a concept employed by economist Don Boudreaux in his ‘cleaning with capitalism’ series at Café Hayek, I’ll post on reading by capitalism; beginning with a reading problem I’ve recently picked up: my iPad.

I was originally a happy man, content and in a middle age marriage to my Amazon Kindle. It was nothing exciting, just a great read: I found the e-Ink technology kind on my eyes, and I could read outside, but also at night with the lights off using the torch attachment built into the cover that can (and should) be bought with the machine. Best of all, I could read two average sized novels on a single battery charge. Unfortunately, however, lust for a feature, or rather, an app, has led to my Kindle being jilted for another.
The affair started on my reading budget being weighed down by the demands of, well, all the other things that money has to be spent on, particularly as we’ve just built a house on escaping Christchurch, meaning library ebook lending became too attractive to bat my eyes at anymore. The problem is the New Zealand library service doesn’t work on Amazon's platform, no doubt a licencing issue due to that latter company’s desire the owners’ of their machines can only get content by buying from the Amazon store. Which I have no problem with, but it simply meant to loan ebooks from Christchurch library I had to get an iPad and download the free OverDrive app. A fatal attraction. Woe is me, I had no idea of the trouble I was getting myself into, with this foxy, seductive little piece of technology.

The difference between a Kindle and an iPad is the difference between a Soviet styled planned economy and laissez faire: a single function versus choice. Lots and lots of choice. The affair with my iPad has truly left me like a gaping innocent staring with sparkly eyes at the world of email, Twitter, games apps, every sort of app you can think of, and of course, the Internet. Which has also ironically meant I can’t read books any more. At least, not in the three week library ebook lending period, before the digital locks go down on the boudoir of whatever I might be reading. Currently two days left on Charlotte Grimshaw’s ‘Night Book’, and I’m barely half way through it.

The trouble is I get into bed with this temptress, my iPad, not Charlotte, and my whisky nightcap – though I’m beginning to think apple cider might be more apt - and instead of going direct to the book reader app I can’t seem to resist the bright lights, glitz and possibilities of first checking my emails, then Twitter, oh, and then perhaps I’ll just check my blog stats - getting a bit OCD on that lately - but on the way to those, look, that article in Granny Herald, damn, I’m going to have to write a blog on that, and before I know it Mrs H. is mumbling from the pillow, ‘turn that damned thing off and get some sleep!’. Which I do, meekly, of course.

So whereas I used to read books, and love them, my heart has been turned by reading the Internet, which is to read everything and nothing; left feeling like an empty vessel, a wastrel, spent force, Twittering my life away, each time I turn the saucy little iPad off. You’ll see at the top of this blog that I set it up because I was writing a novel, well she’s been spurned also for the gleaming, shiny retina-display of 2048-by-1536 pixels. I’ve even done something I said there should be capital punishment for, despite my belief in the non-initiation of force principle: used the camera app to photograph the pooch and post her on Twitter! Kill me now, please.

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