How mobile has changed the way I read

I am was a voracious reader – upwards of 1000 pages per month of mixed content be that books, magazines, newspapers or blog posts. I read a lot, all the time, without stop.

Today, I barely read a book a month, I rarely pick up a newspaper and I haven’t bought a magazine in months – all thanks to the print-killing combination of my iPad and iPhone.Don’t get me wrong, I still consume an inhuman amount of content, I’ve simply shifted the way I jam it into my brain by taking a mobile-first approach and by breaking down my consumption into two categories: Immediate (need to know now) and Continual (want to know soon). Here’s how I work mobile to help consume relevant content:

Podcasts

This is the obvious first step and for people who haven’t started bringing these into your daily routine you now have no excuse. The personalities and content is (more often than not) better than the stuff you get on the radio these days – in fact, they have completely eliminated news radio for me as well. I get through 10-15 technology podcasts per week but I do it at times where I would simply not be productive – driving or at the gym mostly.

I prioritize my podcast consumption by the same consumption categories. For example, I listen to Tech News Today daily (immediate, need to know content) and listen to ThisIsMyNextPodcast between the cracks (continual, want to know).

Audiobooks

I have been an Audible.com subscriber for about 10 years now and get through 2 books a month. These books aren’t the second-rate books that used to be available for audio, they are first run and are often available the day the print editions hit the shelves – except for Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest which is an anomaly. I will typically listen to these while driving or at the gym as well and I focus on non-fiction or biographies – the books you’d love to read but can’t quite find the time to do so.

FlipBoard/Zite/Pulse News Reader

My morning ritual involves picking up my iPad instead of my newspaper. When I do that, I use a combination of Flipboard, Pulse Newsreader and Zite. Each provides customized news the way that I want to read it. I use Flipboard to stay on top of my social sphere in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as a mashup of a number of blogs that I read regularly (Scoble, GigaOm, Techcrunch, Mashable, etc.). I use Pulse to do deeper dives in the mobile space – I do most of my story curation and sharing through Pulse.

These social newsreaders have also eliminated work-related magazines. I still love Fast Company and their focus on longer-form, deeper dive articles on the impact of technology around the world but they feed into my newsreaders and I read and share them from there.

Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr

Leo Laporte over at the Twit Network talks about Twitter being the nervous system of the Internet and for me this is true. Breaking news happens there, trends happen there, virtual versions of real events with real commentary happens there. I can’t think a news item, large or small, that I learned about outside of Twitter – from the earthquake in Japan to the death of Clarence Clemons – they all break first on Twitter and usually while I am away from my computer.

Consuming the content in real time while waiting in line or driving or at the gym isn’t for everyone – yet. However, being there and giving readers those options while removing the shackles that almost always constrain content will attract and retain readers.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

  • Completely agree, I too get most of my information digitally these days.

  • I totally agree, the thing I have not totally figured out is how to ear mark content from all my content sources in one searchable places to maintain the “snippets” of gold I find every 6.5 mins a day. Still not sure what to do with the the pile of old Wired Magazines I hate to throw out…

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