A little-commented on (thus far) aspect of the iPad hoopla is the fusion of two very different activities, one of which men love and one of which they generally don’t. The iPad is going to enable/usher in/revolutionise/insert your favourite ‘game-change’ platitude here reading, and any as literary establishment and the publishing industry will tell you, after about 13 or so, men don’t read.
As men reach their early teens, they start a love affair that will last most of their adult lives. They love gadgets, and devices like the iPad are about the consumption of media. Will men go from playing a cool game or downloading geeky apps to rediscovering a love of the fictional novel just because the functionality is so close to hand and easy to use? Maybe they will.
As any psychologist or parent can tell you, there’s an innate male sense for utility and the technology that enables it, a hands-on need to build (or destroy) something that reading mightn’t provide. With a love of tools comes a native appreciation of technology-based media, and that might be one way to engage men with the written word.
Or it may be broader than that. Maybe guys just love something that ties into another media they already consume. Kids’ action series like Zac Power are big if they have interactivity like websites, and the Top Gear books sell like hotcakes.
Reading might not be cool, but after men play Assassin’s Creed on their Playstation or watch the Star Wars films on their DVD, there are books from both worlds for them to enjoy too. Some stories break ground in many formats before they become books, and deploying them on devices men love will bring them one step further to adding reading to their leisure pursuits.