The best books

Jennifer Maloney writes on the “rise of phone reading,” where publishers are seeing more readers engaging books through their phones and are actually seeing a decrease in readership from the iPad and Kindle population.

Specifically: 54% of digital buyers are using their phone to read at least some of the time, and 14% are reading primarily through their phones. Tablet reading declined from 44% to 41% of readers, and Kindle reading dropped massively from 50% to 32% of readers.

This is credited more or less to the increase in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screen sizes, and backed up by this insight:

“The best device to read on is the one you have with you,” said Willem Van Lancker, co-founder and chief product officer of the subscription-book service Oyster. “It requires no planning. My bookshelf at home isn’t any good to me when I’m at the park.”

When I was in London for the Olympics a few years ago I read my first few books on my iPhone 4 on the hour or so ride from my hotel to central London every morning. That screen size was definitely not ideal, but it was great being able to enjoy a book without being stuck carrying it around the rest of the day. I’ve been a phone reader since then, and definitely more so since the iPhone 6 came out.

A corollary to Van Lancker’s insight is that the best annotations are not only “the ones you have with you,” but also the ones you can instantly search.

I think physical libraries in the home have been and will continue to be as much a signaling device as anything else, in the same way a large flat screen mounted in the middle of the home is a signaling device for some families.