Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mr. Darcy on my Mobile

Last night I watched the beloved BBC miniseries version of Pride & Prejudice with a couple of my gal pals. Admittedly, Pride & Prejudice is a gap in my literary knowledge so I’m catching up. Disc 1 ended right where I am in the book, so we called it a night. If you’re familiar with the series, at the end of disc 1... stuff gets real. As I communicated to my friends how excited I was to see disc 2, they implored me to finish reading the book. While we were on the topic of reading I shared that I am reading Pride & Prejudice on my phone using the Kindle for Android app-- Gasp! Like good friends and Austen fans my gal pals gave me my choice of three print copies to read from. I explained that reading the book on my phone is a personal growth exercise. While I may not be an avid e-book reader, I have to come to understand why others love the format. Why not learn through experience?

E-readers and mobile readers have arrived. While they may never replace books in print (at least not anytime soon) people are finding the format extremely useful and appealing. From my personal perspective, the Kindle app comes in handy when I’m on a crowded train. Sometimes I have to choose between reading a book or holding on so as not to fall. Reading on my phone allows me to do both. E-readers and mobile readers allow users to have their books without the bulk. If you are reading this and you drive a car, you may not get it. If you’ve ever been on a CTA Train at 8 a.m., you know where I’m coming from. Others may like the appeal of instant downloads, customizing font sizes or having their personal library on hand at all times. You may be a print diehard, but many readers find e-books to their liking.

Why does this matter to libraries and librarians? I believe that some people will only read if it’s really easy. E-readers add a level of ease and convenience that print materials can’t always compete with. For libraries to capture and keep the attention of these types of users, we have to play in the e-book space. While Kindles can’t offer the same services as a library (see Merrimack Public Library’s blog post "What A Librarian Can Do That A Kindle Can’t") libraries must strive to offer the same service as a Kindle in order to retain these users.

I currently have 6 days to finish Pride & Prejudice before my friends and I continue to disc 2. With plenty of crowded trains in my future, finishing the book shouldn’t be a problem.

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