The Smartphone taught me to read.

Cover of the original UK paperback edition of ...

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I had a smartphone before you did. Long before. It took me a lot of mental memory just now, but I figured out this is actually my sixth smartphone, and third format change.

My first, a black and white Kyocera was my entry into the hand held world of computing and my very first Palm Pilot. This was long before anyone imagined the Internet on a phone. Essentially it was a phone with a few basic apps and a very elaborate address book and calendar. Before this, I had tried to join the PDA world with a stand alone Palm Pilot but it just never worked for me. A device like that is only useful when you remember to have it with you, and a huge contact list is really only practical when it is connected to your dialing device.

From the first day, I loved the merging of the two. I got used to using a stylus and a tiny in screen keyboard, and all my business contacts and appointment dates in my phone changed my life. It was a natural but for me.

What I didn’t expect was how one app outside the usual smartphone concept would change it even more. I tried the book reader app one day, and never looked back.

I have never been a great reader. I read in short spurts for reference, but socially for pleasure, I really hadn’t picked up and finished a book since I was 16 and really can’t remember more than 6 in my life.

With the ebook format, everything changed. Suddenly, books were formatted in a different way, with four or five words to a single line, more like a newspaper column than a book. The contrast was great, but best if all – I could carry the books electronically in my palm, on my phone, so I could read one anywhere – any time.

The first trial into this new world for me was; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. A book that holds find memories for me, by an  author with an a.d d. Style of writing similar to how is like to write.

I was hooked. It took me three months to read, picking up a few pages each time, while sitting at lunch or between customer appointments. Following that, I eased into new titles slowly, starting with a few Star Trek novels because I already knew the characters.  Eventually, I picked time travel as a theme, and read a few books that were brand new to me. It was great. I was on a roll, enjoying lunches alone and literature.  I felt almost normal for a while, even though each book took me more than a month to read this way.

Recently, I figured out something had changed.  Facebook. The Internet had come to my smartphone in a way that was finally affordable, and book reading faded away. I didn’t even finish the last one. I downloaded the movie and saw how it ended.

Now, when I have a spare moment during lunch, or between appointments, or even while stopped at a stop light, I don’t open my ebook… I click the Facebook icon and see if somebody has poked me or clicked ‘like’ on a new photo of a kitten in a sink.

In a way, it makes my alone time more social. I gave 250+ friends that I didn’t have 5 years ago, and I still read a lot more than I ever did before smart phones, but my days of enjoying books has come and gone.

It’s a shame. I think I should start again. Bit I know I’ll miss the tweets and likes more.

I will try to make room for both in my life. Maybe I can give up TV.