I use my smartphone a lot, and not as a phone.

That much is pretty obvious, isn’t it? I haven’t read any recent research about smartphones, but the last one I remember reading was already pointing out that its users are now doing more texting, tweeting and browsing on them than making calls.

That’s my case.

I use my smartphone more and more to do all the NCS (non-calling stuff) – and reading is in the forefront.

There are basically two reasons for this. First, size: I can easily pull it off my pocket when I’m waiting for the elevator, which is a thing I always do – why waste what could be a fun, action-filled reading time of a paragraph or two? (in the smartphone case, whole pages, which gives me the impression of faster reading – not always true, but the psychological factor is always encouraging.)

Second, I’m terrified of being mugged and having my Kindle stolen.

In 2010, I was watching on the TV an interview with a Brazilian publisher that was using the fact that she never saw anyone using e-readers on the street or in the subway, for instance, to support her thesis that e-books wouldn’t be a big hit in Brazil.

Then, I already had my Kindle and I knew of at least two close friends of mine who had already purchased theirs, another who had bought a Nook and half a dozen who were seriously considering buying an e-reader until Christmas. (All of them bought reading devices later that year – Kindles or iPads.)

Fortunately the kind of opinion expressed by that publisher is rapidly changing here – Rio de Janeiro just hosted a major event focused solely on e-publishing, and in October I’ll be in a roundtable discussion with publishers and writers in Bahia for FLICA, an annual book fair that chose the e-book as its main discussion theme for this year. And more and more people I know are purchasing e-readers by the month now.

But she had a point – people aren’t usually seen using e-readers out in the open – in Brazil, I mean. Why is that?

I can only speak for myself – and I already did it above: fear of being robbed. E-readers aren’t jewels, but they can be seen as status markers, and therefore, an invitation to muggers. (I should point out, however, that smartphone theft is escalating in Brazil, which can make my point moot – so I also avoid using my smartphone when walking on the streets – but I’m not so paranoid as to avoid using it in the subway or in a bus or taxi, or at a café.)

But the point is – I have it and I’m using it, and lots of people I know are doing the same. So, we’re apparently creating a culture of reading in enclosed spaces. But guess what? We have always done that with paper books! (Of course, there are exceptions to be made, as when the last Harry Potter novel was published – I saw several people reading the hardcover while walking, enraptured almost to the point of being run over by cars in the heavy traffic of São Paulo.)

And I’m also not so horrified that I never go out with my Kindle. Every time I get out of town I carry it with me. Traveling light was always a dream of mine (you should have seen the size of my luggage when I first traveled to Europe – it was an embarrassing experience which I fortunately did not repeat on further trips), and an e-reader is well worth it – but I’ll cover the travel territory another time.

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