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Alice in Wonderland Google Play books bookplate

Alice in Wonderland Google Play books Harvard College Library bookplate

I’ve now got used to being able to read a book on an ebook reader across several platforms whenever I want.  Counting up the platforms I’ve realised that I’ve got several ebook systems setup with Kindle, Google Play books, ibooks and Calibre.  I’ve also got Kindle reading apps on a couple of PCs, an ipad and a phone, and I’ve a Kindle ebook reader.

So over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to keep track of when I’m reading ebooks, to help to understand what my patterns of reading are, and particularly what devices I am using, what I’m doing and where I am.  I’m also been trying to think about what the reasons might be for me using a particular device at that time.

Patterns of use
I’m reading ebooks largely at certain times of the day.  Mainly either at lunchtimes or in the evenings.  There is occasional use during the day at weekends.  I also find that at evenings and weekends I’m splitting my reading between ebooks and print books.  The only difference to that pattern is if I happen to be travelling by train or as a car passenger.

Lengths of time spent reading.
In the main I’m tending to read for short periods of time of 10-15 minutes with breaks.  When travelling I tend to spend longer periods of time reading of 30 minutes to an hour.  Interesting to me is that I tend to read print books for longer (and that may be down to where I am when I’m reading print books).  Occasionally I’m reading just a few pages for five minutes when I’m out and about.

Device use
When I’m out and about and reading ebooks on my phone it’s just for short periods of time, while I’m waiting for something.  Occasionally I’ll read ebooks on the phone for longer periods when travelling, but that seems mainly due to having the phone to hand, rather than the Kindle or tablet.  I’m always aware that power usage on the phone means that it won’t last a full day without recharging, so if there’s an alternative to the phone I’ll use that.  Reading ebooks on the phone as an experience is actually fine.

On journeys I’m tending to use the Kindle and I think that this is mainly because the power on the Kindle lasts for longer that phone or tablet, so even if I have both I’ll use the Kindle if I have it with me.  But I’ve noticed that I’ve started to take the Kindle with me less and less, if I know I’m going to be somewhere I can recharge the tablet.  The key consideration is that I can do other things with the phone/tablet so will want to save them for phone calls/text/internet.

At home I’m tending to use the tablet for ebook reading.  Mainly I think for convenience as I can recharge it when I want and switch between ebooks and browsing/looking things up.  A true multi-window tablet experience would be good though.  At lunchtimes I’m mainly using the ebook app on the laptop which is my main device at work.  If I’m sat at my desk it’s the easiest device to use.

I’m using the phone for mainly short periods of time, reading just a handful of pages.  For longer periods of time of say 30-60 minutes I’m reading the tablet or laptop.  For longer periods of time than that I’m using the Kindle generally.   What I find interesting is that I’ll use whatever device is to hand, but if I’ve more than one device with me then I’m thinking about how much power is left in the device and how easy is it to switch the device on.

What I meant to add at the end of the post (and completely forgot), was why I titled this blog post ‘ebooks and analytics’.  Amazon clearly collect data about what devices you are using, when you are using them and what you are reading on them.  So wouldn’t it be good for you as an individual to have access to that data?

Maps on mobile devices are a really great tool and something that I know I’ve quickly got used to as a way of finding your way around places.   It’s now routine to use the maps feature to find where a place is, or where the nearest something is to where you happen to be when you are somewhere unfamilar.  A couple of things have come up just lately that highlight how we’ve come to depend on them and what a problem it is when they don’t work.

Apple iOS6 maps
Apple’s much-publicised problems with the new maps function in iOS6 (reported here by the BBC) really brings home how important the maps function has become as a standard feature of a mobile device.  I know that organisations like Pew Internet carry out a lot of surveys on mobile phone use, but I’ve not seen anything that identifies how much use people make of the maps features on mobile technology.

Yes, it might be 4 miles away... but that doesn’t make it the nearest
The other thing that brought it home was standing in Helensburgh last week and trying to find the nearest petrol station.  Yell screenshot of Helensburgh petrol stationsIt’s not a place I know that well and we’d been staying nearby on the Clyde estuary and wanted to get some petrol before heading off north.  So the obvious answer was to look up petrol stations in Helensburgh on the mobile phone.  So a quick check on the phone on Yell gave the nearest petrol stations, just 4 miles away.  Maps of petrol stations near Helensburgh from YellExcept, they aren’t the nearest petrol stations, unless you happen to be driving a boat, as they are in Greenock, across the other side of the Clyde estuary.  Most of the petrol stations it picked up (and Yell doesn’t seem to be the only site that has the same sort of issue) may well have been the nearest locations in terms of distance but they simply aren’t going to be the quickest places to get to.

And that strikes me as really odd that sites like Yell don’t give you the nearest site in terms of how long it will take to get there.  Looking for a petrol station, it’s probably likely that you are in a car and driving.  So how far is it to get there using the likely route you would have to travel, and what are the traffiic conditions, i.e. are there any traffic delays.  Which seems to me to suggest that a cross between the maps, route planner and directory system is what you actually need, or a car that turns into a boat.

PS.  It’s actually 27.9 miles or 47 minutes to the petrol stations in Greenock according to the AA Route Planner  and the even more interesting thing, is that actually there’s a Tesco Express Tesco helensburgh website screenshotpetrol station in Helensburgh itself, which didn’t show up on Yell search.  Ironically the Tesco’s website that does show the Helensburgh petrol station also shows Greenock as being nearby, so has exactly the same problem.

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November 2012

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