In my retirement I do a lot of reading: books, magazines, news articles, essays, just about anything I can view on my iPad Mini. Unlike most of my friends, I actually prefer digital to hard copy. I can control the brightness, font size, and line spacing so that my eyes don’t have to strain while reading. The iPad screen is crisp and bright and the size of the Mini is nearly perfect for hand holding. I can also carry around 200 or more books with me.
So, if the iPad is so great, why then did I just purchase an e-ink ereader: a Kobo Glo HD? Because there’s a serpent in the garden. While reading on the iPad I developed a nervous habit of interrupting my reading frequently to check email, Facebook, and Flipboard for new email, postings by friends, and postings I might want to relay into Facebook. Compared to pre-Internet days, my concentration had gone to hell.
The Internet appears to be taking a toll on many of us. Our attention spans have shortened, our concentration has become relaxed, and perhaps we’ve even lost the thread of our own narrative. Well, not quite that drastic, surely, but a rereading of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows on the subject is sobering.
I knew from previous experience with a Kindle ereader that when I read on a dedicated reader, it strips away the ease of popping over to do something else. It’s just a reader, the way a book is just a book. I’d been thinking about the Kobo Glo HD for awhile, but when my friend Jarrett Hather showed me the one he’d bought, I was immediately taken with the hi-res screen, the good contrast with or without lighting, with the light, easy-to-hold casing, and with the quasi bonus that Kobo is/was a kind of/sort of Canadian product. At least it began life here before being bought out by the Japanese company Rakuten.
I bought a Kobo, charged it up, cabled its USB port to my Macbook Air, and transferred over my library of over 200 ePub-format ebooks from the Mac to the Kobo. I was ready to begin. My first test: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. There’s nothing like a fine 19th-Century novel to test your concentration.
It worked. Although I was twitchy at times, I calmed down about checking email and social media, and just read. In three days of intermittent reading I’d finished the novel which I’d been reading at a leisurely pace simply to enjoy the rich period language.
Now I’m finishing Sophie’s World, a delightful novelized Philosophy 101 course. Spinning off from Sophie’s World, last night I downloaded Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and started reading. Elevated intellectual writing with no training wheels. But, I’m keeping my concentration, even though I don’t expect to read the entire work.
Kobo Glo HD, I’m hooked.