I’ve loved to read since I first learned how to read. I likely read everything in sight, but at that time, printed books were the primary delivery vehicle. One of the goals I had as a parent was to encourage my son to become an avid reader. He’s 12 now and I’m very proud to say that I’ve succeeded!
It might sound counter intuitive, but I think that it is much easier to become an avid reader these days than it was when I was his age. Most people think that computers and gaming devices have sucked the desire to read from our kids. But I think that computers, gaming devices and other modern tools have helped kids develop a passion for reading.
First of all, most interaction with a computer requires that you read. There are instructions, help forums, and an endless number of websites that can be found that relate to any computer game. The makers of the games have also pushed this a step further by creating “novels” that star the same characters of favourite computer games. TV shows help as well. Pokeman, for instance, has produced cards that contain a huge number of facts for each of its characters. Game makers have also produced hefty reference guides to be used along side a game to help the gamer become even more proficient at winning.
Second are the reading devices that everyone seems to have this year. I have a Kindle, my son a Sony. I read most of the classics in paperback years ago, primarily introduced to them via school curriculum. My son has 300 or so classics loaded onto his Sony reader… and they came free. He can freely work his way through the classics when he wants. And he is reading them! He’s even managed to read some that I missed. How does he even know about the books? I’m not sure, but I think that he’s exposed to many of them via spoof shows like Simpsons or Futurama.
Beyond these classics, it is very easy and relatively inexpensive to download a book to a reading device. You can do it immediately whenever you hear of a book that might interest you. This avoids forgetting about a book recommendation that someone made. Many public libraries are now offering ebooks for borrowing. Recently I read that I can lend some of my purchased kindle books to friends. I plan to give this a try very soon.
Third are audible books that you listen to instead of read. I know that some devices are programmed to “read” a book to you. My preference is the audible versions that are produced by having a professional voice actor read the book. I started listening to audible versions of books about a year ago and I can’t believe how many books I’ve “read” in this way. They are so enjoyable to listen to as well! It’s no longer the case that I buy a business book and only get a few chapters into the book. When I’m listening, I get completely hooked and have finished every book that I’ve started. I’ve listened to business books, self-help, biographies, and novels, all with equal enjoyment.
Not convinced? Give it a try yourself. Believe me, I love printed books and you can tell if you’ve ever been in my home or my office. I easily have 25 books on my desk and hundreds in my shelves. If I can make the leap from my beloved printed books to ebooks and audible books… so can just about anyone!
How do you get started?
If you don’t own a dedicated reading device, you should be aware that you can download the ebook reading apps that can be used on smart phones or on your computer. This won’t give you the full benefits of reading an ebook on a dedicated device, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the ebook apps have improved the reading experience. It is nothing like reading your email or a website.
You can find most books are available in ebook format. Most you have to pay for, but if you look, you can find quite a few for free. For instance, check out our Flashbooks which are free and were optimized for online reading. If you have a subscription to Books 24x7 or Safari Books Online, you may already have access to technical ebooks. Not all memberships include the mobile option, so check to see what you have. IBMers have a subscription to Books 24x7, but not the mobile features. Quite often you can sign up for a trial license for these online book sites to give it a try.
I have a personal subscription to audible.com, but there are other sites as well. Also, many public libraries stock the CDs for popular books.
My personal conclusion is that by using modern devices, I’m able to read/consume many more books than I did in the past and I’m enjoying the variety of ways that I can read a book. I’m also pleased that my son has made the leap despite the fact that a year ago he didn’t think he’d ever enjoy reading an ebook or listening to a book.
I’m curious about your experiences! Let me know.