The Real “Kindle Killer”

 Posted by at 7:49 PM  Tagged with: ,
Aug 252010

Please excuse me for poking a bit of fun at all the “iPad [or whatever magical device] is a Kindle Killer” article headlines, but it seems to me that the only real device with a chance of “killing” reading is the television. I just saw this report by Bowker, which proudly announced that “More than 40% of Americans over the age of 13 purchased a book in 2009.”

Now, not to delve too deeply into the math, but if 40% of Americans bought a book in 2009, then that means almost 60% of adults didn’t buy even one single book all last year. That’s a pretty depressing number to me. I mean, I know reading isn’t “cool” anymore, but I would have thought more than half of Americans would buy a book in a whole year.

It’s especially depressing when you compare it to TV statistics: 99% of American households own a TV, and on average, watch it between 4-6 hours a day. Hours a day vs. not even one book in a year. I couldn’t even find statistics for the percentage of people who watched at least one show on TV last year, presumably because everyone knows it’s 100%.

The sad thing is, most of the crap on TV is just, well … crap. Anything even remotely good (*sniff* Firefly *sniff*) gets cancelled anyway. If it wasn’t for Gator football games, I’d have pretty much no use for TV. As it is, I don’t own one (my wife has a small one hooked up to rabbit ears — no cable), although we do watch a few shows on Hulu.

Anyway, I need to head back to some reading / e-book forums to restore my faith in humanity, by hearing more stories of people who read 10 books a week and have a “to be read” list of 500 titles on their Kindles. Until then, feel free to leave a comment below telling me how often you read instead of watching TV.

Yes, I guess I can wait until the next commercial. *sigh*

Concentration And Intelligence

 Posted by at 7:13 PM  Tagged with:
Apr 102010

Could multi-tasking be making us dumber?

That’s one possible conclusion based on interesting neurological research performed on mice. The article discusses how intelligence could be more than just “how many facts someone can cram into their head,” but also “how much someone can focus on a specific task.”

It certainly rings true to me: I don’t think that flipping between TV stations, or playing video games with lots of colors and sounds, or skimming pictures in a magazine makes me smarter. You know what does make me feel smarter? Reading. The article points out specifically that reading long, difficult books (War and Peace, anyone?) is a great mental exercise, as it trains our brains to not only process information and contemplate its meaning on multiple levels, but also to focus on one thing for a long period of time. While it may be more difficult to focus on simple words printed on a page (as opposed to moving TV images or a cool iPad game), that’s precisely what makes it a better mental exercise. (Do you see bodybuilders lounging in chairs, doing bicep curls with 3-ounce cell phones?)

The fact that reading makes you smarter is hardly a revelation; I’ve known that for some time. But it’s interesting to see research that highlights the importance of the ability to focus.

So, if you feel like some enjoyable mental exercise, something that will entertain you and make you smarter at the same time, why not read a good book? I’m just saying ….  😉