i (the newspaper), reading on the iPad and a few words about Kindles

Before getting my iPad, I promised to dump my expensive newspaper habit. It didn’t really work, because I missed the serendipity of a printed newspaper. So I came up with a compromise. I’d get a daily paper again, but instead of the full-fat Guardian I’d get i, the abridged Independent.

From tomorrow, I’m back to the Guardian.

i is a nice idea, but it’s not the paper for me. There’s very little comment, which I’ve come to realise is something I really want from a paper. It’s good for exactly 20 minutes of reading, so it’s not something you return to throughout the day – which, again, is something I want from a paper. And some of its supposed innovations are a pain in the arse, such as wasting two pages to tell you what’s in today’s issue (along with a daily “Ooh, this paper’s great, isn’t it?” editor’s letter), quoting tweets from ten randomly chosen people, having a “from the blogs” section that crams the entire blogosphere into 150 words or a TV guide that fails to answer the question, what’s on the bloody TV?

The other problem with i is that if you get it delivered, you’re probably paying more than the cover price for delivery. My newsagent charges 27p; i‘s cover price is 20p. There’s something enormously annoying about that.

So I’m back to the Guardian, for now at least. Financially it doesn’t make sense – it’s £1 a day for something I can get for free online – and there’s the constant danger of encountering an article by Tanya Gold, but I’ve definitely found that I read differently in print and on screens. For all its joys the iPad has a screen and reading on it feels like work: I speed-read, and pop in and out of apps, and look at Twitter, and…

Print doesn’t have that, and I think that’s a big plus. When I need to read, I read on a screen. When I want to read, I want to read without distraction.

That’s one of the things I like about the Kindle. Its additional features – its web browser, its MP3 playback – are rubbish enough that I don’t want to use them, so it works as a pure reading device. I do hope Amazon resists the temptation to add extra features in the next version.



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