There's no shortage of poetic waxing out there about iPhones, e-readers and the future of the book industry. I've downloaded an e-book or two in my day, and I'm known to occasionally curl up with a paper book. But today, I'm a convert. The iPhone Classics app has turned me into a reader.
Just as the iPhone dramatically changed my music and camera habits, Classics has changed the way I read. Before the iPhone, I never carried my iPod or a camera, but wrapping it all into one piece of hardware that's always in my pocket means I'm taking more pictures and buying a lot more music on iTunes. Likewise, I rarely set aside time in my day to read -- but now that the iPhone puts it at my fingertips, I can conveniently fill my downtime with a book.
There are lots of iPhone books out there, and the library is rapidly expanding. Classics, though, takes a unique and brilliant approach -- the app packages 20+ classic, public-domain books in a single app that costs
just 99 cents $2.99 (they've raised the price since I bought it). For less than a buck, I've read Dickens, Verne, Kipling, H.G. Wells, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and Hound of the Baskervilles, and I've got lots more in my future.
Here's the key: the value of Classics isn't that it's digital; it's that it's always a tap away. The dedicated e-reader (or paper book) is like my dedicated camera and iPod -- if I'm going on a long trip, I'll bring them along, but they're not part of my everyday life. Books on the iPhone allow me to read as effortlessly as I check the the time (the cell phone replaced my watch long ago). My high school English teachers would be proud.