The Growing Impossibility of Book Perving

One of the few perks of utilizing public transport has always been a spot of book perving. A discreet but leering glance to the side. An ogle from behind the pages of one’s own book, to discern the title and appraise the cover art of another’s. (I don’t go in much for reading-over-the-shoulder though, unless in dire circumstances.)

eReaders and liberation from book perving

It was awareness of my own propensity to indulge in book perving that made me somewhat shy about what I chose to read in public. eReaders, have, of course, changed all this. Now, freed of fear I’ll be the target of a subtle (or even not-so-subtle) book perve, I find myself reading books I would not otherwise have been caught dead reading in public.

Self-help books (that divulge my weaknesses to potential foes). High-brow books. Low-brow books. All these, I avoided in the past (at least, when out and about), in order to escape derision and/or conversation. eReaders have truly freed me.

But what a price there is to pay!

No longer can I perve on others’ reading material with ease. Those still reading paperbacks tend to be reading the same books with frightful regularity. I first noticed this with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Then there was Twilight. Game of Thrones. Fifty Shades of Grey. The Girl on the Train. The Hunger Games. Gone Girl. City of Girls. Girl, Wash Your Face. {Note to self: definitely publish something with ‘Girl’ in the title. I wonder if ‘The Girl Girl’ is taken already?}

And those using an ereader – well, their literary choices are largely opaque. When discussion does break out amongst users of ereaders (or even between a user and a curious onlooker), it inevitably revolves around the technology, rather than what one is reading. I know. I do this myself.

But not all ereaders are coy. My first ereader, a Kobo, was far less inhibited than my Sony Reader. The Kobo would display the cover art of your book whilst in sleep mode. This was embarrassing at times, when you forget which book you’d been reading before you put it away in your bag. And it would label every electronic page with a footer proclaiming, in bold text, the title of the book you were currently reading. At least with a paperback, the prudish reader can hide the cover by holding the book flat open on their lap, or utilzing strategically placed fingers, or a book cover.

With the Kobo, it was up-front, full-frontal naked reading. Which is, of course, good for a book perve – so long as you don’t mind reading over people’s shoulders.

Do you enjoy reading in transit? Then I think you’ll love Number Eight Crispy Chicken! Join my reading group for updates.

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