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I also sometimes read on a smart device because it is always in my possession and it is simply easier to carry and use. There is access to thousands upon thousands of books and articles on a smartphone so I believe it is a smart choice for reading. However, I do always love the smell of a book and the feel of holding it and turning the pages. Opening a book is a satisfying feeling; more so than turning on a phone.


I often find myself reading on a device as well - it is not only convenient for me personally (as I can access pretty much anything I like at any time with the appropriate device and an Internet connection), but becomes a great academic tool. I not only can conduct almost instant research (rather than, say, spending days combing through journals on the fifth floor of the UGA library in order to identify someone who has made an obscure point in a little-known periodical), but I can give students access to "permanent" digital copies in the forms of PDFs and Word documents.

However, I find myself agreeing with Hannah on a number of fronts. One of the elements that Thompson ignores is the aesthetic and sensual experience of reading a well-crafted book. It's not just about the feel of turning pages or the smell of a book - though that is certainly part of it - but the tactile interaction with another person's ideas. If the written word is thought made concrete, then being able to touch the page on which though exists is (if a bit pretentiously philosophical), an exercise in being able to interact with the author. Practical things like highlighting and dog-earing make the reading experience interactive and personal.

Now, some might argue that the digital tools available to us are capable of recreating the interactive experience. I'll concede that the tools are amazing. But I will also point out that much research on physical note-taking and literal tactile reading notes a greater and broader retention of material. In short, the book and the page matter because they are real, not a series of binary ones and zeroes.

test student 1

It is a true novelty to be able to read whole novels, no matter their size, in your pocket and access anytime you need, and do so with one hand and perhaps a pair of reading glasses. It allows authors to worry more about content and less about space filling. It's good stuff man, it's real good stuff.

J. M.

I prefer to read on a device, but I cannot deny the sophisticated feeling and the description Mr. BOshea makes. I prefer reading on the screen because I can adjust the text according to my sight that day, as some days my vision is not what I wish it were. I believe the smaller type though helps my vision. Using technology to read enables me to have more in one location than with books themselves, as I can have more downloaded than what can fit on my shelf.


I really like the E- books its easier for me to read because I have to wore reading glasses.I first used the E- book in my psychology class and I enjoy the things it has on there like examples to get started, reviews and to get you to understand what you doing. This is a great technology for us and future. I like this better than reading a hard book.


Reading on smartphones can be helpful for some in various amounts of ways. Then again for some, like myself, it may not be helpful at all. I am one that would rather have a hard copy than an electronic copy. Electronic copies are more convenient now a days because people always have electronics in their hand. Also, it can help one want to read more just like John said. I wouldn't say that electronic copies are necessarily better than hard copies but everyone has their own opinion.

Dean Chapman

After reading Mr. Thompsons article I can see where he's coming from. The fact is that I don't read books because I choose not to because there is only so much time in a day. Mr.Thompson reads on his smartphone on the go and that sounds handy. I might try and get in to reading again just on smart phone and do it bit by bit and we'll see where that goes.

Nathan Evrard

If I could change the font on my phone I think I might. I wouldn't change it drastically but maybe a little. Personally I'm not a big fan of reading books on my phone. I like having the physcial book in my hands, being able to flip through the pages, etc. Also I love going into bookstores. I have found a large amount of books that I love in bookstores when I was looking for a different book. The online bookstore just isn't the same. As time goes on and more bookstores close I fear for all of the books I will not find as a result.


I love reading, but I prefer a book instead of reading on a device. Sometimes I try to read articles from my phone and sometimes It's frustrating,and when I read a article from a book if I have to refer back to something It's easier to open the book and find what i'm looking for.

Rob Vidal

Clive Thompson explains many positive outcomes of being able to read books on our smart phones. He starts off by explaining that it is nothing new and that it comes from a form of the 18th century book formatting called octavo. Besides the formatting he also explains that he loves the fact that technology has given him (us) the ability to read on the go and always have it on hand.
I have to agree with him because I find myself in the same situation that he is in. I find myself more willing to read a book on my phone compared to a physical thick book. It would also be easier for me to read because the pages will be nice and short and not too exhausting.

Ishkov Peter

Clive Thompson talks about small format of books in 18th century and how book format to which we are accustomed replaced the previous format. However, now eBooks supersede all other book formats. When long books with large pages appeared, it have become more expensive and people have started to take these books with the hope that this book will recoup their costs. Now eBooks have an undeniable advantage over other formats of books. It is happened because of its handiness. Now read the book you can use any device that you carry with you. This book format has many advantages, begin with saving space and number of books that you can take with you, and end with opportunity to change the font type and size. People in 18th century used small format of books because it is easy to carry these books, and now we use same format but on our devices. Another plus of electronic copies of the book lies in the fact that the document errors can be easily corrected.

Tim McFee

It's all about portability: reading via a tablet or smartphone on public transport or while away on vacation seems to be the 21st century equivalent of the paperback. As a student I tend to download ebooks from project gutenberg or for contemporary works, OBOOKO http://www.obooko.com

Stephen Rizzo

Despite the traditional advantages associated with the size of smartphone devices, such as the ease of carrying the device, or the availability offered by these devices, there are some glaring benefits that are left unsaid.

Primarily, both smartphone engineering companies, along with historical writers, made sagacious moves while designing their works. While the comfort when holding these objects are appealing to the public, it also makes it so that the reader can devote full attention to the small window/area. As some other comments have included in the original post, this proves to be very effective for those with reading disabilities, such as Dyslexia. However, on the other hand, this is a feature that is generally useful for the average reader, as well; a wall of text is enough to suffocate those with even the strongest attention span. Although it is very unlikely that these smartphone companies deliberately emulated the design of the classical book (or "octavo", rather) -- it is likely that this design has shown its potential and has proven to be the most effective.

Even though the debate on whether or not e-books will ever surpass the conventional book is a topic that will never be closed with a finite answer, it is truly interesting to see how closely related the two objects are. No matter where (or how) books are presented, modern and archaic minds clearly think alike, especially in the way that words are conveyed and presented to the reader.


Breaking large bodies of information into smaller tidbits is not a new idea, but it is a good one. Applying it to reading on smartphones is definitely a newer concept. Since we know that people have dangerously short memory spans, tidbits of information can give the reader less to remember in one section than a larger page. Each of these packets of information is much easier to digest. This is something that we have already seen designers apply to phone platforms, but more in the realm of pictures and social media and not so much literature. Another positive element about the portability of reading from small pages is that when you can take it anywhere, you can read it anywhere. The author has already explained this. But when you can read it in your spare five minutes, then when you resume your work it is automatically in the back of your mind. When you mull on it in the back of your mind as you work, you digest it. And when you change how much you digest and when you digest it, you change your brain’s metabolism. The same method applies to eating: if you eat a mass of food a few times a day, you will experience both bloating and hunger. However, if you eat small bits of food throughout your whole day, you will feel full without feeling overfull, and your hunger is diminished. Instead of drastic ups and downs, you get a steady flow of energy and a more even metabolism; in this case, of information. This digestion of information also tends to provide new insights that are unexpected. What you gain from attacking an assignment or an idea head on is pretty general, but the things that we learn in this new way could be much more innovative compared to the results of how we might normally approach it.


I think that reading on physical books is better than electronic because it helps visual learners.

Eliza W.

On one hand, I agree with Hannah that reading a physical book is more pleasing to the senses compared to reading a book online. On the other hand, I agree with J.M. that reading an e-book is a lot easier to manage and is more adaptable. Thompson states that “If you’re going to charge someone $25 for a hardcover nonfiction book and do it via industrial publishing, you have to make the customers feel they’re getting $25 worth, which means the book has to be loooooong … even if the author does not possess an argument requiring 300 pages.” I believe that Thompson’s point is addressing an underlying argument that maybe the real problem here is cost, not paper back vs. e-books. I believe the main reason I tend to be inclined to read online is because it is cheaper than buying a hard copying. This poses a problem for me though because I become more frustrated when reading and it also takes me longer to read on my phone or computer because of how easily I can get distracted. I believe that there should be a happy medium that if online books can be shortened and cost less, paperbacks should also be shortened and dropped in cost.


Size matters: Clive Thompson on the benefits of small screen reading

Lately when I have bought books they have been on a smartphone or a tablet. I do not like reading books like I used to. Reading books on tablets and smartphones is so much easier. When I read at night I do not have to worry about having the light on and waking up my daughter. So it is very convenient. I also like reading books on my tablet and smartphone because it is so easy to take it with me anywhere. I do not have to worry about carrying a big huge book around in my purse or holding it. I also like reading on my tablet because most books I read if there is a word that I do not know, I can just click it and it will tell me what the definition of the word is.
When I was younger I used to read paper books all the time. That was before I had a phone though. I did not get a phone till I was around sixteen years old. When I first got my tablet, I bought a ton of books. I was staying up late every night to finish reading the books that I bought. Having them on the tablet made reading so much easier for me. I never had to worry about losing my page either, when using a tablet, it automatically would save the page I was on. This was helpful on nights that I would fall asleep while reading.
Like Clive Thompson, I also agree that having books on tablets or smartphones makes it easily accessible and makes reading anywhere very easy. I liked being about to read my books when I was at doctor appointments, waiting in the car, or even riding in the car for long periods of time. I also liked the fact the unlike paper books, e-books cannot rip or tear. I also have read larger books on my tablet than I have with a paper book. I really enjoy tablet books because they are very accessible and I can buy just about any book right from my tablet. I do not have to leave my house to go out and buy a new one every time I finish one.
A lot of the time e books are cheaper than a paper book, this is because you don’t have to pay for the use of the materials that were used to make the book. Making the e books cheaper. You can also buy magazines, and newspapers and other things besides books on tablets. Making read more efficient and convenient for everyone. On tablets you can also adjust the font size to better fit your eye sight needs. Schools are also switching to online or tablet books because it is easier for students and the schools do not have to worry about buying new books every year after they are returned damaged and ruined. I think this is a very good idea because it will make it much easier for students to take them home because schools are now making it mandatory that students have an iPad for school.

Jenna Dallal

While I agree that Thompson makes a point when he boasts of the convenience of smartphone reading, which in turn promotes increased amount of reading, I believe he misses a few major downfalls to reading on smartphones. Constant use of devices that emit bright, blue lights causes strain on the eyes, which can lead to vision loss or accelerated vision loss for those that already suffer from near-sighted or far-sightedness. Additionally, smartphones offer a variety of distractions. Notifications for texts or phone calls can pop up and interrupt deep trains of thought. Users could also be more tempted to check emails or browse Facebook, thus complete forgetting about reading. Ultimately, his argument would have been more solid if he had mentioned these fallacies and had rebutted them.

Ryan Wallace

In the article "Why 18th century books looked like smartphone screens", Clive Thompson talks about octavos, which are small books typically 6 x 9 inches commonly used in the 18th century. Thompson discusses the similarities between octavos and smartphones, because octavos we're typically read with one hand while the reader was moving, just like how people do with smartphones in the 21st century. The change from smaller to larger books mostly stems from people finding more information and wanting to share a lot of ideas. It also comes from people who don't have a lot to say, but extend the length of a book by adding filler, like what Thompson says "If you’re going to charge someone $25 for a hardcover nonfiction book and do it via industrial publishing, you have to make the customers feel they’re getting $25 worth, which means the book has to be loooooong … even if the author does not possess an argument requiring 300 pages. (Thus we find so many books that are really just magazine articles gasified to fill the container.)"

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