240px-Paulbcarr.jpgIn a provocative article that is sure to rile iPad fans, author Paul Carr looks closely and the iPad and doesn’t like what he sees in terms of reading.

The iPad is emphatically not a serious readers’ device: the only people who would genuinely consider it a Kindle killer are those for whom the idea of reading for pleasure died years ago; if it was ever alive. The people who will spout bullshit like “I read on screen all day” when what they really mean is “I read the first three paragraphs of the New York Times article I saw linked on Twitter before retweeting it; and then I repeat that process for the next eight hours while pretending to work.” That’s reading in the way that rubbing against women on the subway is sex. …

Even for those who love books enough to persevere with reading without e-ink will soon face another problem with the awesomeness of the iPad. The device does so many different things so well that there’s a constant urge when you’re using one to do something else. Two or three pages into a book, you’re already wondering whether you’ve got new mail, or whether anyone has atted you on Twitter. One of the joys of reading is to be able to shut yourself away from distractions and lose yourself in a book. When the book itself is packed with distractions, the whole experience is compromised.


  1. An attempt at a provocative answer:

    If you are having that much trouble reading, then maybe you shouldn’t be. If the other stuff the iPad can do is that alluring then you are probably wasting time reading you could use for something you get more enjoyment out of. The question is: If the book isn’t keeping your interest then why are you still reading it?

  2. I’ve been reading on my iPhone for 2 years now, and for about 8 years before that on devices that could also do more than just read a book. Oh yeah, they also didn’t have e-ink either.

    If I want to read, I read. And I always have books with me.

  3. As a lifelong book-lover AND gadget geek, I’m getting a little tired of being told that I must not really love reading.

    While he does have a point about the temptations of being able to click away and surf the web or play a game, well, computers have been in our homes for decades now, and TV for more than half a century. Temptations and distractions are plenty. But I just devoured “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack” on the iPad. And I can now read PDFs that I would have had no choice but to print out before.

    (And I still read paper books sometimes too)

  4. Hey you kids! Get off my lawn! And turn down those silly radios, with that beepy-boopy garbage you call “music”! And pull up your pants and wear a real shirt! Don’t you boys have jobs? And young lady, does your mother know you wear that much eye makeup?

  5. I get so immersed in a book that I have to be forcefully interrupted, like getting in my face or loudly calling my name or tapping me on the shoulder to get my attention. The distractions are not calling loud enough to do that.

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