As more people begin reading books on the Kindle or now the Sony e-reader, many people have been commenting on what the shift means socially. I’ve read some articles that have questioned, for example, how people will use books to create an identity on the subway or plane if no one knows what they are reading. It’s sort of like the whole “if a tree falls in the forest but there’s no one around to hear it” question – I mean, if you’re reading a smart book on the subway and no one’s around to see it, then…? Well, for people who care, that’s your dilemma.
For those who read for their own pleasures or enrichment, for the way that certain words or phrases feel on their tongue or in their hearts, that’s not such a concern. In fact, some people have said that gadget-ish readers such as the Kindle have helped them to feel comfortable accessing books that they may not otherwise want to be seen reading in public such as books about sex, self-help books or tween novels.
Granted, I lost that type of modesty years ago having spent my grad schools years shuffling between cities while reading books with titles such as “Sex for One” and “Female Ejaculation” on the airplane. You can imagine the interesting (and sometimes annoying) conversations sparked by these titles. Most of the time, however, I forgot that I was reading anything of interest to others and would often be surprised when people took interest in my books. When you read enough sex books, they become the new normal to you. Or at least they did to me.
But most people don’t read dozens of sex books in a short period of time. Most people do care what others’ think, even if just a little, or else they want to keep some privacy or not be bothered by someone who wants to know why they are reading about sexual pleasure or erections or what have you. As an author of a recently published sex book, I’m curious as to whether people will feel comfortable reading a book like mine when they are in public. So far, I’ve received feedback on both sides – some have congratulated me on a book cover that passes the so-called airplane test whereas others have said that any sex book, including mine, is one they feel more comfortable reading in private.
And if privacy is important to you, whether it’s reading a sex book, a romance novel, a book about a health issue you’re struggling with, or a tween novel even though you’re well into adulthood, then a gadget reader may be just the thing for you. Even if you can’t highlight the important parts or scribble the name of your crush in the margins (complete with hearts) like you would while reading an in-the-pulp tween novel. You know, like you did when you were still an actual tween.