Do you know about Reader View?

glasses

 

I do a lot of reading, from books, e-readers and online, but the latter is my least favourite medium for a couple of reasons:

1: Ads

I block ads, not because I’m opposed to advertising per se — I realise they “monetise” a lot of the free content on the web — but I am opposed to winking, blinking, distracting ads that draw my eye away from what I’m reading. They’re like muted TVs in bars. You can’t help by be distracted by the flickering movement.

I’m not talking about reading brief snippets here. I’m talking about longer pieces, often serious, sometimes complex, interesting or just things you need to think about carefully. How anyone can imagine a reader’s experience is enhanced by, well, stuff like this …

annoying

… is beyond me. So I block them all at source with a browser add-on. (My current favourite is uBlock Origin.)

Here, for example, is a before from  a local news site …

stuff1

and after …stuff2

(Note that the “before” shot doesn’t show the zooming, panning, insistent horror of that car banner ad.)

 

2. Awkward text

The second off-putting thing about about online reading is that on my 24″ wide-screen monitor text is often spread from side to side. The head and eye movements required to read longer pieces is simply unnatural. I’ve been known to shrink the application window to facilitate more comfortable reading, and even cut, paste and print longer pieces to afford a more comfortable read. (Yes, Wikipedia this includes you.)

In the past I’ve used tools like Readability, but that became unnecessary last year when Firefox added Reader View to its URL bar. Chances are, you missed it entirely.

Reader View “strips away clutter like buttons, ads and background images, and changes the page’s text size, contrast and layout for better readability.” In short, it transforms the likes of this …

wiki1500px

into this …

wiki2-500px

Is that not 1,000% better?

You’ll find the Reader View’s icon on the right of the URL box …

ReaderView

Just click it to toggle it on and off. It’s just possibly the best thing for reading since the printing press!

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American reading habits (2014)

Last year, nearly a quarter of American adults didn’t read a single book–hardback, paperback or e-book–a figure that’s almost tripled since 1978.

US book reading
(The graphic comes from Seth Godin’s blog posting Telling the truth with charts–but that’s another story!)

 

These figures come from this Pew Research Center report (PDF), which also shows that e-reading is on the rise.

  • 28% of adults read an e-book in 2014 (up from 17% in 2011 and 23% in 2012)
  • 69% read a print book
  • 14% listened to an audio book
  • 4% of readers are “e-book only”

Overall, 76% of adults read a book in some format over the previous 12 months. The typical American adult read or listened to 5 books in the past year, and the average for all adults was 12
books. Neither the mean nor median number of books read has changed significantly over the past few years.

  • 50% of Americans own a dedicated handheld device–either a tablet computer or an e-reader
  • 92% of adults have a cellphone
  • 55% have a smartphone
  • 75% have a desktop or laptop computer

E-book readers who own tablets or e-readers are very likely to read e-books on those devices—but those who own computers or cellphones sometimes turn to those platforms, too.

Of e-book readers:

  • 57% use a dedicated e-reader (up from 41% in 2011)
  • 55% use a tablet (up from 23% in 2011)
  • 29% use a computer (down from 42% in 2011)
  • 32% use a cellphone (up from 28% in 2011)

(Clearly, e-book readers use multiple devices.)

Though e-books are rising in popularity, print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits: Among adults who read at least one book in the past year, just 5% said they read an e-book in the last year without also reading a print book.

 

 

 

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