paper trail

E-books harder to understand than print books

The much-maligned app Yo—which allows users to say “Yo” to one another—should not be dismissed as a novelty, the Wall Street Journal says. When the app’s monosyllabic greeting pops up in your smartphone’s notifications tray (and a tiny voice repeats the word) the app is exploiting push notifications, “the most valuable property in the entire media universe, considering how often the average smartphone owner glances at his or her phone.” Future iterations of Yo will allow users to send links along with the greeting and to connect the app to RSS feeds. Soon, “every blogger, website and media outlet on earth” will be using Yo to send notifications and links.

How many Twitter users aren’t real people? Approximately 23 million of the the 271 million monthly active users, or about 8.5 percent.

Tim Parks, who lately has been on the reading beat at the New York Review of Books blog, discusses the argument that people reading anything is better than people reading not at all. Is reading really a gateway drug? Do people “pass from the genre to the literary up our neo-Platonic ladder? Do they discover Stieg Larsson and move on to Pamuk?” Nope: Different kinds of narratives offer “different experiences that mesh with readers’ psyches and requirements in quite different ways.” Reading literary fiction isn’t a necessary element of a “full, responsible, and even wise life,” and such readers don’t possess “an essential tool for self-realization or the key to protecting civilization from decadence and collapse.” (Not even readers of Pamuk? Quelle horreur.)

How well you understand what you read, genre or not, depends on whether the book is in a print or digital format. Researchers studying 10th graders found that those who read print books responded better to tests measuring comprehension than those who read on a computer. Apparently, “reading print texts helps the brain form mental maps.”

A young-adult imprint at MacMillan, Swoon Reads, is relying on readers to choose its titles. The publisher of Swoon Reads, Jean Feiwel, explains that “readers are more in touch with what can sell.” She has acquired six of the 237 manuscripts posted to the Swoon website.