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The Economist, in print
March 15, 2010 - 9:48pm

"Inchmale, she guessed, was sitting up in business class, headed for New York, reading the Economist, a magazine he reads exclusively on airplanes, swearing that on arrival he promptly and invariably forgot every word."

--Spook Country, by William Gibson - page 172.

note: I found that quote in like 2 seconds in Amazon's Search Inside the Book feature - awesome.

Do you still prefer to read anything by paper? The Economist is about it for me. I don't want paper anymore. I don't like the environmental load. I don't want paper cluttering up my house. I'm happy to get almost all of my books from the library. The books I buy are almost exclusively audio books.

Sure, the daily local newspaper is good in paper - as I take joy in seeing the kids divide it up (and share the comics section). But the NYTimes I read on my iTouch or online. Same goes for almost all my news.

But The Economist - I think I'll stick to paper. I like how they pile up, waiting for weekend windows and vacations. I read from back-to-front, lingering over articles on East Asian finance that I barely understand (and soon forget), but which never fail to relax the mind. In digital format I only read what I've searched for, sometimes browsed. But with The Economist I read almost everything on offer, perusing articles outside of my search patterns. It takes me a while to read an Economist. I page instead of skim, turn and absorb rather than click.

I'm willing to let The Economist drive because I trust that the articles will be smart no matter what the topic. Perhaps I'll disagree with magazine's conclusions, but seldom am I suspicious of the analysis. The paper form factor changes the experience of reading - somewhere beyond consumption and just short of savoring.

And The Economist is expensive. Even if I could read it full-text online I'd still subscribe to the paper version. Proof, at least in my economy of 1, that strong analysis and writing will continue to find a market.

Will the iPad change all this? I wonder, as I could see the iPad being a really wonderful lean-back reading device. Will the iPad bring a little "creative destruction" to my Economist reading preferences?

What do you love on paper? Are you also wondering if the iPad will change how you read? And will there be an iPad Economist app?


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