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E-Libris: My Smartphone is More Than a Phone

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.

About Fabio Fernandes (21 Articles)
Fabio Fernandes is an SFF writer living in São Paulo, Brazil. He has several stories published in online venues in the US, the UK, New Zealand, Portugal, Romenia, and Brazil. He also contributed to Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's Steampunk II:Steampunk Reloaded, Southern Weirdo: Reconstruction, and The Apex Book of World SF Vol. 2.
Contact: Website

6 Comments on E-Libris: My Smartphone is More Than a Phone

  1. A good friend of mine didn’t think he would cotton to e-books..until he started reading Project Gutenberg stuff on his smartphone.  *That*, he groks.

  2. I have apps for Kindle, Nook, eReader and Kobo on my smart phone, an android — as you’ve pointed out, the ease of reading anywhere, anytime, through such a small portable device makes great sense.

    My thoughts on dedicated e-readers: since the supplier, for example Amazon for Kindle, only permits purchasing their books from their site (DRM and format), I cannot justify the purchase — the dedicated readers themselves should be supplied free of cost and advertising with your first book purchase. 

  3. I am also a smartphone reader — Android. It’s the fact that I don’t have to have yet one more dedicated device. I carry my smartphone wherever I go so it means I can always take it out to read at least a few chapters/pages while I’m waiting on a line, riding public transportation, etc. Very convenient.

  4. hemisphire // August 17, 2011 at 11:15 am //

    @Wen Scott Most ereaders permit sideloading of non-DRM’d books (downloading directly via USB).  I use ebooks on both my smartphone and my ereader, and it’s much more pleasant to read on the ereader.


  5. I mix it up with both e-readers and smart phones. My wife just inherited my Kindle since I mostly read off my iPad now, but there are times I don’t have it with me and so I’ll read off my iPhone and for relatively short spans, I have no problem reading off the device.

    When I started reading with e-readers and smart phones in public places, I thought of one terrific advantage. No one would interrupt my reading to say, “Oh, hey I ‘ve heard of that book, is it any good?” Or ask me if I’ve read something else by the author. They would have no idea what book I was reading and would ignore me and leave me in peace.

    Fat chance! Now people say, “Oh, are you reading a book on the iPad? I could never read an e-book,” and similar such comments. This happens at the airport and on the plane quite a bit. It is one of the few drawbacks of the e-devices: I can no longer read in public in peace! 😉

  6. I’m curious to see how widely phone-reading spreads in the US, and if we get side-effects like the phenomenon of phone-novels that sprang up in Japan. I am not enamored of this development, partly because reading anything longer than a text on the phone makes my eyes cross (literally!).  I also believe in using those little moments to relax, rather than jamming more information into my head. And I wonder if younger readers will pick up on this trend. Hmmm.

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