Supporters of eBooks say they make readers less isolated, more social

Volumes have been written about technology’s ability to connect people. But burying one’s nose in a book has always been somewhat isolating, reports the Seattle Times—so what about a device that occupies the evolving intersection between? “Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and non-fiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. With the price of e- readers coming down, sales of the flyweight devices are rising. Last month, Amazon reported that so far this year, Kindle sales had tripled over last year’s. When Amazon cut Kindle’s price in June to $189 from $259, over the next month Amazon sold 180 eBooks for every 100 hardcovers. Social mores surrounding the act of reading alone in public might be changing along with the increased popularity of eBooks. Suddenly, the lone, unapproachable reader at the corner table seems less alone. Given that some eReaders can display books while connecting online, there’s a chance the erstwhile bookworm is already plugged into a conversation somewhere, said Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University…

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