Benefits of Mobile Reading on the iPhone 7
I upgraded to the Apple iPhone 7 for Christmas and have already doubled my reading time. And most of that doubling is because my reading is now truly mobile.
Let me offer some personal examples. My wife likes to shop. A lot. I do not. While she was shopping at Goodwill last week, I read Justine by Lawrence Durrell on my iPhone for an hour while sitting in the car. If you’ve read Durrell, you know he liked to throw around a lot of arcane words. I was looking up words every third sentence on my iPhone. (Palimpsest, for instance, which is what his famous Alexandria Quartet is.)
Next day, I read for another half hour while waiting for the doctor who was running late. That night, when I woke up at 2 am, I continued reading. I have already read this book twice in paperback. The paperback sits on my bedside table but I much prefer the iPhone now. Ironically, this is because the screen size is smaller than an ereader or paperback. I’m finding that reading fewer words per page (or screen) is helping me focus on the writing. Fewer distractions and opportunities to get lost in what is a complex work demanding full attention. The enlarged font setting on my iPhone is set with an average of sixteen lines of text, five words per line, per screen/page. That’s still eighty words per screen/page. I use the sepia background. The new version of the Kindle Reader App I’m using has an easy “pop-out” to see multiple pages at a time, in case you want to go back and quickly check something.
I own an Apple tablet but rarely use it anymore. The form factor of the new iPhone 7 is perfect. The screen is slightly larger while the device is thinner. I am using the regular version, not the Plus. It fits easily into my pants pocket, similar to the old camera and GPS test of fitting into a shirt’s breast-pocket. These folks truly understand usability scenarios.
As someone who saw how the unexpected smartphone mostly killed the consumer camera business, I find myself wondering how smartphone reading is going to affect book reading. The promise of the smartphone from day one was to bring everything we want together onto one device, which is always with us. Music, movies, camera, video, GPS, Google, social media, the Web—all in one mobile place. Add books to that mix, too.
I’ve read the intelligent thoughts of publishing executives like Carolyn Reidy of Simon and Schuster on the move to phone reading. Mobile phone reading should be a great growth opportunity for publishers, thanks to the amazing work being done by the innovators of our time, Apple and Amazon. I’m not sure how publishers should be taking advantage of this trend beyond what they are already doing, but am sure there are many great ideas to be put in place. Paying close attention to price elasticity might be the most important area for immediate publisher focus.
Let me close with one further example of how the iPhone 7 is increasing my time spent reading. I was rereading The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder in the middle of the night. I have been enamored with this morality tale, and in reading up on the author, discovered he was influenced by the letters of a French aristocrat writing in the 17th century, Marie de Rabutin-Chantal de Sévigné. Thanks to Amazon, I was reading these letters one minute from discovering they existed! $3.99 they cost me. The perfect price.
I’m eagerly awaiting new smartphone reading data from Nielson. Let’s keep our collective eyes open because my hunch is there is far more phone reading happening than being measured.