You’d think a gadget boy like me would have jumped onto the
Kindle/e-reader bandwagon by now, but no. Anything with an Apple logo on it has
me drooling from the mouth and here at newbooks Towers my colleagues are
amazed I haven’t found an excuse to buy an iPad yet.
But there’s something about the e-reading scenario that
leaves me cold. I spend too long reading computer screens each day to look
forward to doing more of same in the evenings.
However, there’s no denying that this Christmas has seen a
sea change in attitudes as more and more anecdotal reports find their way to
us. Add to that the bullishness of trade releases about the ‘phenomenal’ number
of Kindles sold and the ‘incredible’ number of downloads purchased on Christmas
Day. (Hardly a surprise - when you’ve got a new toy that you want to try it out,
Anyway, this from Janet Shaw articulates the thoughts of several
recent converts we’ve heard from:
warmly in an earlier issue in praise of the back-lit Nintendo and its
collection of a 100 Classic Books, I now write in praise of Amazon’s Kindle,
given me as an unsolicited present by my son for Christmas.
“I thought we could explore this technology, Mum,””
If you buy a leather case to put it in, it feels just like an open book in the
hand: very like the small squarish hard back edition of the The Small Hand by Susan Hill I treated
myself to as a Christmas read. (A friend of mine strained her neck holding the
latest C J Sansom - my description of the Kindle sounded very attractive
The Kindle, unlike the Nintendo, can be read in sunshine: the Nintendo can be
read in the dark but the Kindle needs light on it. There is no glare from a
stark white page with a Kindle so reading it seems to relax the eyes. The print
quality is truly amazing. Yes, the font size and line spacing can be changed
which is wonderful for eyes like mine which are developing cataracts.
It does read to you (at speeds you can vary) in a male or female electronic
voice - not very relaxing! However it does mean that if you are at an exciting
part and want to tackle something in the kitchen or on your cross stitch or at
your carpenter’s bench – it will carry on reading to you.
And it is scarily easy to download on to it. What have I put on it?
First of all I bought The Help by
Kathryn Stockett as it was so well reviewed and I was defeated by the small
print in the library paperback. Then I chose all the Barchester and Palliser
novels of Anthony Trollope for under a pound. Why? Because my husband and I
have not read them and an evening listening to James Fox reading from
Trollope whetted our appetite. My small font, old, fragile copies take up
two feet of shelf space. Thirdly, I chose the King James Bible (free) following
our Church House group where one of the men had five bibles on his Christmas
black leather cased Kindle. Finally another freebie – some Just William stories after seeing one of the drama series on TV
over Christmas. To tempt the grandchildren is my excuse.
This is just a beginning as there is space for hundreds of books.
It crosses our minds occasionally that we may have to downsize one day and
which books to keep from our eight bookcases will pose the main problem. The
spines of books which we have read are like photos of old friends and places
visited, and glimpses of the spines of unread books give tingles of
anticipation. So readers will always want some real books about them.
The ownership of my Kindle means that I store on it all classic authors and
poets for a few pennies or pounds and release several feet of shelving leaving
me with books which need to be handled or are not available in digital form.
What a relief to know if I have to live in one room, as we did as students, and
I am in my right mind, I will have so many places to revisit, so many people with
whom to be reacquainted, so many ideas to challenge me and new worlds waiting
to explore – all in a wallet-size leather case. A reassuring backup for future
Need we be concerned about the future of books? No- reading friends state
categorically, “Soon there will be no such things as books.” The paperback
disposable market may be affected but there will be people who always want to
handle books. Readers should be thrilled to know that the words in books will
be available in different and accessible forms. Reading experience is our
interaction with words, and books have provided the main medium. Now we can
access this experience in different and increasingly effective ways – horses
Readers will always keep reading in whatever form makes it easy, feasible,
financially viable and pleasurable.
There has been a post Christmas buzz and excitement in the school where I work
(teaching reading of course) as Kindle owning teachers share their excitement
in the new technology:
“Did you know there’s an inbuilt dictionary?”
“You can write notes you know”
“Isn’t the speed of download amazing?”
“My wife reads a book a day.”
“Let’s order some for the students. Anything to make reading attractive!”
A Kindle Club for young and old!
Finally another comment from my son: “And if you suddenly have to take Dad to
hospital again, Mum, you can just grab your Kindle and go.”
I look forward as always to this year newbooks issues. My husband and I are
resolving to spend more quality time reading.
Difficult to argue with that, isn't it? Think I might just get that iPad after all.