Is Mobile Affecting When We Read?
“When a reader is given a choice about how to consume their content, a major shift in behavior occurs. They no longer consume the majority of their content during the day, on their computer. Instead they shift that content to prime time and onto a device better suited for consumption.”
Printed media used to allow us to read in the places we found most comfortable. When you imagine yourself reading the newspaper it’s probably in your favorite chair, at the breakfast table, or at the cafe with an orange mocha frappuccino in your hand.
Unfortunately, as news and media moves online, it moves us away from these places and into our desk chairs. Even worse, consuming content is no longer on our own schedule. The flood of content disrupts us all day as if we have an maniacal paperboy throwing new editions on our doorstep every 15 seconds.
This chart shows the number of articles saved to Read It Later each hour (adjusted for timezones). As you would suspect, it is steady throughout the day as we are bombarded with content every waking hour.
Time Shifted Reading
People are busy. It’s unrealistic that we are going to consume all of this content the exact moment we discover it. So we leave dozens of tabs open, we email ourselves links, or we use Read It Later to hold on to the content until we are ready to consume it.
It is during these moments between tasks and locations that people reach for their phone. These are perfect times to knock an item or two off of your reading list. By saving content for later, readers are able to consume content during the voids in their day without interrupting the day’s normal flow.
This is generally the most relaxing time of day. After a long day, work is done, dinner is resting in your belly and there is nothing left to do but put your feet up and relax. This time slot is the same one coveted by television. When the majority of people are consuming content it seems perfectly natural that people would use this time to do their reading as well.
How the iPad is Changing Online Reading
The newspaper/magazine paradigm suits tablets extremely well. They are portable while still being large enough to make reading enjoyable.
Aside from a quick lunch hour at their desk, iPad owners are no longer doing the majority of their reading on their computers. They are saving it for their personal prime time, when they can relax comfortably, iPad in hand and burn through the content they found during the day.