Phone Reading

I love hearing about people’s reading habits (see previous post) and often ask people if they prefer traditional books or e-books.

One conversation that struck me was with a man I met at a recent conference.  He told me that while he reads paperbacks at home, when he travels he reads novels on his iPhone.

“Oh, you mean your iPad,” I replied. “No, my iPhone,” he replied amiably, taking his iPhone out from his pocket to show me.

True enough, he had a few novels on his iPhone. I was fascinated! Didn’t the tiny screen bother him? Nope, he replied. Did he zoom in to make the words larger? At first, he said. But then he got used to it, and now just read the text normally.


I was surprised and intrigued that he felt comfortable reading entire books on his iPhone.  I sometimes look up a short text if I need to quote something for work, but would never have thought (or really wanted) to read a whole book on one.

But is this more common than I think? I’ve always assumed the people around me were texting, but perhaps they’ve been reading Madame Bovary or the latest Stephen King.

photo credit:

(Curious about the novel on my iPhone I used for the photos? It’s Beneath the Satin Gloves by Britt Skrabanek, a fellow blogger.  Her book and her blog are worth checking out! Check it out here:

80 thoughts on “Phone Reading

    • That’s so interesting! I think there are a lot more people out there doing this than I realized. I like the idea that you just can’t resist the call of a good book regardless of its format!

  1. I cannot imagine myself reading a long novel on iPhone….. But the important is to read read read and if some people enjoy it, I am all for it….personally I prefer to have even a very good edition of a book and I always have room when I travel for a book….

  2. Reblogged this on a physical perspective and commented:
    My beautiful friend Letizia has included “Beneath the Satin Gloves” as her e-book photo examples on her latest post…”Phone Reading”. I am grateful for her support and hope you will check out her blog in return. She is a phenomenal writer who offers clever insight into reading habits.

    Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts about phone reading.

    Happy weekend to you all!

  3. That sounds like a challenge, I have enough trouble not skim reading on a computer screen, and then of course there is the constant worry about low battery aspect. I could probably hack an audio book if there wasn’t anything shiny to hijack my interest.

    • I hadn’t thought about the battery issue, but you’re right, that would certainly be an issue.

      I wonder if the small screen would actually help avoid skim reading as it forces you to focus on such a small section of the text at once. Hmm, I’m going to experiment with this later today. Thanks for the inspiration…. I always look forward to your comments!

      • Ooo, let me know how it goes. For small bursts of text, I bet it’d be great for studying scenes from a Shakespeare play, I wish I could have done that when I was at school.
        The battery issue was the first reason as to why I didn’t get an e-reader, at least with a book you never have to regret forgetting to charge it before you enbark on a six hour roadtrip..

        • I’ll let you know how it goes. I wonder if I’ll have the patience for it as I’m not much of a technology person and the idea of constantly having to click/turn the pages seems a bit annoying.

          We’ll see; it will be an experiment!

    • I love the feel of a real book in my hands as well. The feel of the paper, the smell of the pages, turning the pages: it’s a wonderfully sensory experience, isn’t it?

  4. The thought of reading on an iphone (or iPad, or Kindle) makes me so sad. I feel like the Native American Indian with a tear rolling down his cheek in the old commercials about littering. I know some people prefer it, but to me it’s so sad to think that traditional paper books can be replaced, even occasionally. I don’t know why I can’t embrace it, but I just can’t.

    • I used to feel the same way (and always read traditional books myself unless there’s only an electronic copy available) but then I noticed that some people who didn’t read very much before have started reading more now that they own a Kindle or the equivalent.

      That made me very happy indeed so I warmed to the idea and now just see it as a different way of reading. I don’t think paper books will be replaced (at least I hope not!).

  5. I am sooooo very old fashioned (or is that just old??) I have a very old mobile phone. It makes phone calls, and texts if I”m that desperate! As for reading, no I don’t think so. I either have a real book with me, or my eReader. I prefer paper though when ever I can. All though like some previous comments it’s great that people read no matter what format!

    • It sounds like we would have to text you the novel piece by piece on your phone 🙂

      I agree, reading a novel on my phone is not for me. Although I may try it once just as an experiment.

  6. Hi.

    I don’t prefer reading on my cellphone no matter how big the screen is. But, like some of the readers mentioned already, it’s rather convenient. I’d still not going to give convenience the upper hand and so I’m going to say that, like the man you encountered, I too read on my phone while traveling.

    As recent as a week back I re-read Jeffery Archer’s The Eleventh Commandment on my cellphone. In totality I must’ve read not more than 3 books on my phone.

    • I’m so pleased to read your comment as I’ve decided to try reading a novel on my phone as an experiment but wasn’t sure which one to read.

      I wasn’t sure if I should read one I already owned or try a new one. So, inspired by your comment, I will read Archer’s the 11th Commandment!

  7. This is an interesting departure from my assumptions as well. I admit that it is difficult to read so much in the little screen and reading a whole novel there….well…. scares me. Wouldn’t it hurt eyes ? I am not sure.
    But since you met someone who does that regularly, maybe we have limited our options ourselves. I personally have never read any novel on computer. Would save a lot of money if we come to do that…and paper ( and trees ) too !

    We can try this !

    • Yes, I know a lot of people who read most of their books on their iPads and Kindles now (I prefer traditional books unless there only exists an electronic copy).

      I love the feel and experience of a traditional book, but the advantage of the iPad and iPhone is the convenience of traveling with your whole library and of saving money and trees, it’s true!

  8. Though I prefer a book in my hands, (i)phone reading is not such a bad idea. For example, I had a collection of Coelho uploaded in my nokia android that I finished during my research methodology class. I guess that says something about the quality of the class, too. But, now that I am teaching a bit too my eyes scan the class to see if any of my students are doing it.. 😀 😀

  9. Wow! You make me sound so cool. lol.

    So now I’ll tell you other ones that I’ve read on my cellphone.

    Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
    The Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling (Reread)
    The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkein (reread)

    I bought Lullaby the moment I was done to read it in paperback.

    • So, a lot of times you reread books; I can see how that would make the experience more enjoyable. Good tip! Thanks for the recommendations.

      Oh, and you ARE cool! 🙂

  10. My sister reads everything on her iPhone. I have fallen for audio books. I never thought that I could give up my books, but now I head out for walks with my iPod. I have “walked” with Christopher Hitchings, Malcolm Gladstone, Stacy Schiff, David McCullough, Iris Chang, Jared Diamond and many more. I work most days in front of a computer and my eyesight is to what it used to be. Audiobooks have been a Godsend.

  11. I usually carry around a paperback/ small hardback/ Kindle. But if I’m out of reading material, I’ll read on my phone. I’m not sure I’d want to read a whole book on that tiny screen for large chunks of time, though.

    • Thank you, Samir; you are so kind!

      I decided to no longer write about awards but I really appreciate the nomination – especially as I love your blog and your posts in particular. You have a wonderful writing style and such a thoughtful point of view. So it means a lot coming from you!

  12. I do the same thing! Whenever I travel, I always read in my samsung phone. The big screen helps. However, I still prefer reading a real book.

  13. I am happy and amazed at the responces you get on your posts! Well deserved, I might add. Several years ago a friend who’s a programmer for software was developing TV for cell phones. I had to laugh and asked who would watch TV on a phone– I have enough trouble making calls. Well, as you can see I’m way behind the times. With the size of the IPhones I can see me reading a book if I’m stuck somewhere. Great post, Letizia!

    • It’s funny how it’s hard to predict future behavior. Or even other people’s behavior!

      Here I was thinking that the man I met at the conference was rather unique in reading on his iPhone when in fact so many people read on their phones! I just love learning these things!

      Thanks again for the kind words, Dannie – and congratulations on all the wonderful reviews you’ve been receiving on your latest book!!!

  14. My husband is currently reading Lord of the Rings on his Samsung Galaxy 2 phone. As it is one of my favorite trilogies the actual books have been available to him in our home for about 10 years. The phone is light and portable and he loves having his book always to hand. The backlit text allows him to read into the night long after the cats and I have fallen asleep.

    • What an interesting alternative to a book light! I hadn’t thought about that.

      I’m sure you (and the cats!) appreciate it!

  15. I’ve got 21 books on my fone 😀 And now I actually prefer reading on it, other than the fact that my handbag doesn’t get heavy anymore, the best thing is that I can read it in whichever position I like without fearing ‘creasing’ the pages, and of course, being able to read in the dark is a boooooon 😛

  16. When you have the kindle app on your phone then sure, you could read a few pages perhaps, but not a whole book surely? Oh well, so long as they READ!

  17. Letizia, I prefer a hard physical book anytime anywhere. I could lie in bed, on a lounging chair or even sit on the loo and read my physical book. I must admit though that kindle and the likes are very convenient and easy to carry. 🙂

  18. I don’t see people reading on their phones very often, but it certainly is convenient. I prefer my Kindle first, iPad second, a real book third, and my iPhone last if that is the only thing I have on me. The fact that we live in an age where we have so many options and that we can sync all of our devices to the last page read is pretty amazing. The important thing is that people are reading!

    • You’re right, based on the feedback I’ve been getting, it seems that people read on their phones if there’s nothing else available. Or if they don’t have an e-reader.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    • I haven’t tried reading a novel on my phone but will soon as an experiment.

      I agree, Britt’s book is really good! It was fun choosing the pages to feature!

    • It still amazes me how many people are reading books on their phones. To have such a library in your pocket is quite a beautiful idea in a way! Thanks for the visit 🙂

  19. Nice post! with advance technology everything has gone digital… as far as books are concerned the real pleasure of reading books comes from holding book in your hand, getting lost in words….Although E books are convenient but books are books no matter book or paper book.. 🙂

    • I still don’t read books on my phone but do read my indie books on my tablet. Although when I have a choice, I always get the paperback – such a nicer experience. Thanks for visiting this old post – I can always count on you for a little visit in the past 🙂

  20. Interesting article and I enjoyed the subsequent conversation. I am an old fashion guy. I like the feel of the book in my hand. Also, I have vision problems, so the small print would be impossible for me to read. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy blogging.

    • I also like the feel of the book in my hands and the idea of reading on a phone (such small print) for longer than a few minutes doesn’t appeal to me. But I know some people love it!

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