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Is Your Co-worker Reading E-books On Company Time?

She looks like she's reading a company report on her iPad, but is she really working on Chapter 7 of the latest New York Times bestseller? Hey, that e-copy of 50 Shades Of Gray isn't going to read itself, you know.

It used to be obvious when employees were using company time to wade through a page turner, because it required holding up a real book in front of their faces. Ding, ding, ding! So-and-so is slacking off on company time, and we've caught her red-handed!

But now, thanks to e-books, employees no longer have to leave a spine-bound paper trail. The paperless book revolution allows them to give the appearance of working at a job when they're actually working their way through the latest steamy romance novel or non-fiction entry. I'll read five more pages and then I'll get back to work. Okay, now I'll just read just two more pages, and then I've reeeeally got to put this book down before somebody notices.

Pew tells us that e-reading is on the rise, and that e-books are libraries' best-kept secret. So it seems to follow that e-reader technologies might migrate into the workplace. And with the lines between home and work irretrievably blurred thanks to mobile devices (what exactly constitutes "on/off the clock" these days?) employees may not feel as badly for taking a light reading break at their desks, in a meeting, or during a conference presentation.

Actually, e-reading technology is migrating into the workplace because companies are investing heavily in it so employees can read company reports and pass along documents that will never, ever be as scintillating as the bodice-ripping scene in Chapter 5.

It's hard to get a headcount on how many employees are e-reading for pleasure on the job -- the surveys don't exist yet -- but summer is here, it's paperback-buying season, and those lucky enough to still be employed in this depression (that's not a typo) are busy planning their vacays by the printer tray. So it makes sense that employees might add some light e-reading to their list of things to do while taking their totally impossible vacation at the office. Sure, the iPad still leaves a bit to be desired as an e-reader, but it's better than nothing and we can finally download the books we would be too embarrassed to buy at the bookstore counter. Just make sure you read that logistics report before the 3 p.m. meeting, okay?


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