Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This post duplicates what I wrote in my professional blog.

I observed a couple of interesting things during the course of the 25 hour reading event. Also, I just saw the results of the Book Industry Study Group survey that showed that 75 percent of college students prefer print textbooks over electronic versions.

Observation 1: books outnumbered Kindle/Nook/iPad reading devices by about the same proportion as last year. Everywhere I looked, I saw folks with well-thumbed paperback or hardcover copies of Moby Dick. iPad and Kindle seemed to be the leaders among the devices this year rather than Nook. That most likely has to do with the fact that last year's event featured the Nook, with four of them on loan from Barnes & Noble.  Where last year there were people wandering around looking for outlets to charge the Nooks, I seemed to be the only outlet seeker this year and that was for my iPod touch, which I used more for Twitter access than for reading along, although I did alternate between my beloved Modern Library edition and the Project Gutenberg e-text in Stanza (Hmm, there's another subject for an entry -- why I like Stanza better than iBooks, Bluefire, and Google Reader).

Reading along during Cetology chapter in the Sperm Whale gallery

Observation 2: Most of the folks using ereader devices were older. They had gray hair. This doesn't fit with mashable.com's representation of people over 50.

Following along while waiting his turn to read in the Jacobs Family Gallery
Some people, besides me with my iPod Touch, were using both types of reading platforms. One guy was even using both at once.  I'm not sure what that added, but it was interesting to see.

Cetology chapter on paper and e-book at once

Observation 3: There was a strong social media component to the marathon this year with live streaming on the web and a designated hashtag (#mdm15) for tweeting during the event. One thing I tried was tweeting from within Stanza while reading. Alas, Stanza and my Twitter account were not getting along. However, I was able to share passages on Facebook directly from Stanza.  My iPod Touch battery was not up to the endurance test of the marathon, but my battered Modern Library edition (with the Rockwell Kent illustrations) held up just fine.

I don't know why Kindle and iPad haven't made more inroads into the Melville afficionado community anymore than I know why college students still prefer books.

My observations at the Moby Dick Marathon fit with observations I made last fall on a walk in India Point Park on Columbus Day. People are still reading paper books. Somebody needs to do more research on why this is.


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