The “copycat reader”
By Alex on June 12th, 2012
I am a people-watcher. I always have been. I love to see what people are wearing, talking about, and reading. Usually my favorite time to people-watch is on the subway—everyone all jam-packed into the trains heading on different routes. On one of my recent subway adventures I looked around and saw a number of people reading which reminded me I needed to find a new book. I had just finished House Rules by Jodi Picoult so it was time for me to set out and find a new read. As a seasoned people-watcher I have also become a skilled “copycat reader.” So I thought what better time to scope out what people are reading than on a packed subway, right? WRONG.
My “copycat reading” rituals usually go as follows—but can be altered at any given time:
1. Check out the book cover (points for a cool image)
2. Read the title
3. Observe the reader’s body language (You know it’s a sure read when you catch people missing their stop because they are too involved with book!)
If all these components look promising I place that book on my “read” list.
So on this particular day when I looked around I noticed the majority of my fellow straphangers were reading, but it seemed like everyone was using an e-reader device. This got me thinking, will e-readers and other forms of technology hurt those of us who have not yet joined the bandwagon? I have already confessed to being a people-watcher and “copycat reader” (no shame here), so I am bit worried that eventually it will be nearly impossible for me to scan the subway for a new book to read. More often than not I get my book recommendations from seeing what other people are reading, and if I get really lucky— depending upon how many stops I have left on the subway— I can usually sneak a quick passage read over my neighbor’s shoulder (the movie trailer of books if you will). However, the one thing I learned from this subway ride was that e-readers make it impossible to take a glimpse of a title or even think about reading a short passage from someone else’s book. With e-readers I have no idea what other people are reading and therefore can’t read that book unless I get up the nerve to ask someone what they are reading—which on a NYC subway would be pretty odd.
So the questions remains, will the new social network of reading and getting book recommendations all depend upon the download rates at the Kindle store? Are “copycat” readers doomed?
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