Smartphone size no obstacle to long reading

Hey, guess what? People read on their smartphones.

That’s the thrust of a piece in Wired that talks about how the smartphone has been a godsend for long-form written journalism. Where people used to read their newspapers on the subway, now they read their smartphones—and despite the predictions of those who said such devices would destroy our attention span, the evidence is pretty good that smartphone users are able to concentrate enough to read articles thousands of words long in one go.

The Atlantic recently reported that a gorgeously illustrated 6,200-word story on BuzzFeed—which likewise gets about half its readers through mobile devices—not only received more than a million views, it held the attention of smartphone users for an average of more than 25 minutes. (WIRED’s in-depth web offerings have also attracted audiences. A profile of a brilliant Mexican schoolgirl garnered 1.2 million views, 25 percent of them from phones, and readers spent an average of 18 minutes on it.)

It probably won’t surprise those folks who remember how, before and even in the early days of the Kindle, the iPhone was the e-book device of choice. If people will read e-books on smartphones, why wouldn’t they read longer news articles? (And for that matter, vice versa.)

This has led to various innovative journalism startups aimed at bringing bigger stories to smaller devices, leveraging social media in helping readers discover new things to read. (Though some of those have been around a while, too.)

So, yes, even in this era of the Kindle and the tablet, the small screen of the smartphone is still not too small for reading. And that’s probably not going to change.

4 Comments on Smartphone size no obstacle to long reading

  1. At this point, it makes sense to bring up apps like Instapaper, which allow your to set aside those longer articles you come across to read later on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Instapaper is one of the most-used apps on my iPad.

  2. I use it a lot myself. It used to be you could download Instapaper MOBIs directly into the Kindle via the Kindle’s browser, but since Instapaper revamped its site that’s never worked right.

  3. Juli Monroe // August 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm //

    @Michael, while Instapaper is good, I prefer Pocket. I find it to be more reliable. Sometimes Instapaper chokes on articles and refuses to download them for no reason at all that I can determine.

  4. Sure they can. Many people are reading on their phones all the time. Some of them only look at their phones and ignore everyone on the road and creates a lot of crash and troubles. I am sure they can read on it without any problems. It is another issue whether they understand what they are reading. I believe they should read a book about etiquette.

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