E-Reader Courtesies

So I'm sitting on an airplane yesterday, flying to Chicago (hello, Chicago!), and the man sitting next to me (and too close to me, if you want my opinion) pulls out an iPad and opens his Kindle reader. The angle at which he holds the device allows me to see that he is reading Matterhorn, a book I've had my eye on for some time.

Now, if this were a print book, I would not have hesitated to make a bit of small talk and ask about the book. But if this had been a print book, I would have recognized the book by its cover, not by looking over the man's shoulder (I guess I'm nosy like that). And I would have been able to see how far into the book he was - if only five pages, I wouldn't ask how it he liked the book, you know?

In the spirit of not being that obnoxious person that talks too much on an airplane and snoops into others' business, I let the matter go. But it left me thinking: what is acceptable in this (or similar) situations? Is it ok to admit that I can see your iPad screen perfectly clearly and am interested in what you are reading? Is it rude to peek in the first place?


  1. Hmm, that's a tough one. I would break the ice by asking how he liked his e-reader and then take it from there.

  2. I keep going back and forth on this one. I mean, on the one hand, it's not like you're alone in peeking over someone's shoulder to see what they're reading so it wouldn't be that odd to ask him about the book. On the other hand, I guess we're not supposed to do that so maybe it's best to just not say anything. I'd probably go with the latter.

  3. I would also have been the 'curious innocent' type: wow, you have an e-reader, how cool! do you like it? may I ask you what you are reading? Matterhorn, what a great book, blablablabla.
    I just CANNOT resist talking about books wherever whenever.
    Emma @ words And Peace

  4. I've never been in that position, as I'm usually the one reading the e-reader. And I haven't had anyone ask me what I'm reading, but I have had the "Is that an e-reader, how do you like it" questions asked.

  5. Haven't been in that position either. Like Jill, I get more generic e-reader questions than book questions. Hmmphf. Thinking on this one. Though I'm just nosy enough, I probably would have said something. Or maybe not since he was sitting too close anyhow. :)

  6. Oh that's a tricky one. I would agree with the smoother transition about asking about the e-reader and sliding into the conversation about a book.
    The question I've had with a lot of friends lately is along the same vein, but with audiobooks. Can you say you've "read" an audiobook? Listened to sounds awkward and stilted. Hrmm.

  7. Honestly, unless you're in first class, you're practically sitting in each other's laps anyway on a plane, so I would just say something like, "I was just rudely reading over your shoulder (it's hard not to in these close quarters) and noticed you're reading Matterhorn - how do you like it?" That seems non-offensive enough & if the person is worth having a conversation with he/she won't really care. Or maybe that's just me.


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