COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted everyone’s lives in a myriad of different ways. Employment, mental health, physical health, social lives, and every other aspect of life have been disrupted. So, I don’t think it is any surprise that hobbies, such as reading, would also be affected by the pandemic. Upon reflection, I’ve found COVID-19 has influenced my reading habits in three very noticeable ways.
1. Increased consumption of digital media.
I love the feel of a book or comic book in my hand. Turning the pages and smelling the paper are a huge part of the experience for me. For years, I swore I would never buy an e-reader or get digital books or comics. However, the stay-at-home mandates and fear of getting sick while in stores caused me to do some things I never thought I would do.
First, I switched to digital comic books. I now use Comixology for all of my purchases and enjoy using the app on my phone and computer. The aforementioned mandates and fears of illness were one driver of this decision, but the logistics and availability issues that plagued comic book stores early on in the pandemic were the final deciding factors. I would go on release day to be told that none of the new stock had arrived yet. Getting everything I wanted took multiple trips, which I didn’t deem safe at the time given my high risk. So, I switched to digital comics and haven’t looked back. It saves me the time and hassle of going to the store, and I don’t have to worry about stock problems. It has also saved a lot of space in my house…the boxes of comics were really starting to add up.
With the success of switching my comic book addiction to digital, it was only a matter of time before the same happened with other books. I began using the library’s digital services to read books and eventually started using the oft-neglected Kindle app on my phone. From there, it was a short jump to get my own Kindle Oasis e-reader, and I love using it. I haven’t completely given up on paper books like I did for comics, but I’ve significantly increased the amount of digital books I read from practically none to more than half of my reading every month. I like that I don’t have to put myself at increased risk to get books I want, but I do still get a book from the store if I’m going to be out already anyway.
2. Massive surge in the amount I read.
Thanks to the pandemic, I found myself with much more free time. I started working from home and have only been working part time. So, naturally reading has helped me fill a lot of down time. I also tend to read more at random times throughout the day between tasks. That has not been an option before because I was always in the office where something was constantly happening. Now I’m at home alone between client appointments; so, I can sneak in a couple chapters between my tasks. This has led to me increasing my reading from 1-2 books per month to 10-15 books per month.
3. I use the library now.
I rarely, if ever, got library books prior to the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, I started using the online library services to read some books. Then I learned that my library had instituted a book quarantine policy and had contact-less check out. So, I could go in, check out a clean book, and never have to interact with anyone. This seemed even safer than going to a bookstore and was cheaper to boot. So, I’ve started using the library for both digital and print books quite a bit, which is something I never would have expected a year ago.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your reading habits at all? If so, what has changed?