Monday, September 29, 2014

Why Not Read Instead of Just Texting? Cell-phone Book Clubs Are Here!


I love the Little Free Library movement where neighbors put up wooden boxes full of paper books to share.

Now here’s another grassroots possibility—cell phone book clubs that you could start for your public library, school, neighborhood, workplace, traditional book club, place of worship, sports team or other purposes.

What’s a cell phone book club, minus any extras?

It’s just a way for phone owners with shared passions to work out the technical details, discover and enjoy books on their phones, discuss the books together, and perhaps get guidance from librarians or teachers (earlier thoughts here).

In fact, libraries could launch full-strength cell phone book clubs (complete with videocasts through Google+ hangouts), described here in detail.

LibraryCity has also mentioned the club-related possibilities for schools, where students so often learn better together.

But why not informal, do-it-yourself cell phone book clubs as well? The tips below even include advice for people without cell phones right now, or the usual WiFi connections. Book-capable phones running the Android operating system can sell for less than $20 without shipping.

A way to expand reading choices, not replace neighbor-to-neighbor book swaps

Cell phone book clubs are not substitutes for the charms of Little Free Libraries or other book swaps, just tools to multiply the number of reading choices.
Scads of free books are online for the entire world to enjoy, and library e-books are now available in most U.S. communities. Not to mention the ever-expanding collections of Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and the like.

“Besides,” I’m fond of asking, “what are you most likely to carry with you, almost always?” Yes, a cell phone—just like your keys and your purse or wallet.

The cell phone book club idea is timely right now. Salon has even published an article titled “War and Peace” on the subway: How your iPhone is saving literature. A headline writer can dream, right? Still, the potential is there in less dramatic form. Most U.S. teenagers own smartphones, capable of displaying e-books. And phone screens keep getting bigger and sharper. Apple is expected to introduce a phone with a 5.5-inch screen, and companies like Samsung sell six-inch models.

Double- or triple-click on the photo to the right, of the screen of a Blu Life Pure phone. If you’re viewing this with the right software and hardware, you’ll appreciate how sharp the words can look on a modern cell phone screen.

Why not start a cell-phone book club?

The nuts and bolts: 10 steps

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