Last Sunday, I walked down to the newsagent and forked out £3 for a newspaper! The Observer. This is a walk I’d done many hundreds of times before, though not once in the last five years as I’d been getting the news on my iPhone, incidentally served up for free by the Guardian / Observer, but that’s another story.
I spent the next couple of hours on the sofa with a coffee immersing myself in the news, columns and features; I was not interrupted by Facebook alerts, incoming text messages, the urge to cogitate on my next Chess move, or the distraction of an interesting looking link mid-article.
I read, and got to the end of, articles I simply wouldn’t have bothered with on my phone: on the scandal of education funding in Mississippi and the perils of diving in the Blue Hole in the Red Sea, to mention two. By the time I finished, I was better informed about a broader range of issues and … much more relaxed than I would have been had I spent the same amount of time on my phone.
Recently, I’d realised that my reading habits had become too narrow, that I was searching out stories on an ever-decreasing range of subjects. I was reminded of an excellent article by Big Issue editor Paul McNamee from our March/April issue about the joys of print, in which he said, “it’s the frequent joy of the unexpected that delivers most”. Hence last Sunday’s purchase decision, one I expect to start making more frequently.
Don’t get me wrong – the future is mobile, of course it is, but it’s not exclusively mobile. Many things are done best on a smartphone, but not everything and for the immersive, pleasurable reading experience, print remains hard to beat.