The Boing Boing store has a special going on right now for something called ‘The Essential Speed-Reading Bundle.’ The bundle has subscriptions to some video bundles which help you learn to both read faster, and to retain it.
It’s an interesting little promo because I think one of the challenges of the e-book age is teaching people how to read slow again. Do we really want or need to read faster and consume more? The skill of ‘deep’ reading is one that many people may feel is shrinking. James Patterson, for instance, just launched a whole new imprint based on the premise that people don’t have time to read long books anymore. His imprint is being pitched as “all thriller, no filler” and he seems to feel that if we don’t embrace the type of quick, flashy reading people want, they will simply stop reading altogether.
Reading on a screen can, for some people, feel different than reading on paper. But I wonder if that’s truly a matter of form over content or not. If I only read short things on my phone, is it because I have lost the ability to concentrate, or is it because I typically only read on my phone when I am on the bus, and so the length of my commute is the deciding factor and not my interest in the story?
I do find reading on the Kindle to be much the same as reading on paper. The only difference has been that I know there is other content available to me on the spot, so if I am not interested in what I’m reading, it’s trivial to switch to something else. That doesn’t mean the story has lost me because I can’t concentrate, though. It means it’s lost me because it’s boring!
So, is there a benefit to speed reading? Should we be re-learning how to focus and concentrate better, or learning how to speed up and cram more in? That’s a personal call, I think. I’m all for slowing down and enjoying, but if you want to speed read, the bundle looks like a good deal.
[There are other methods for learning to speed-read. Mazuma has a round-up of four iOS apps that could help, and The Sequitur has some tips. That said, there are some questions about the efficacy of a number of speed-reading techniques when it comes to improving comprehension. —CM]