26 November 2009

Kindle and Ebooks revisited


Our posting on Kindle sparked a muted debate. I even had an email from someone at Oracle suggesting a further Kindle pun (in advance of our 'Dell, Book and Kindle')-- something about reading on board his yacht- a 'Kindle in the wind.' He also suggested that hand held devices such as Kindle are actually a good way of introducing today's children to real books--many have become accustomed only to screens, cellphones and computer games and hardly ever read or hold a book - so a Kindle is more natural for them and could be a portal into the world of reading and then real books. Whatever it takes, I say.

Somehow I can't see today's eight year olds growing up interested in Horace's Odes or Boswell and Johnson or even Edgar Allan Poe. Will they haunt second hand bookshops? Will Charing Cross Road still have any bookshops or will they be replaced by milkbars full of Droogs drinking drugged milk to hype themselves for the night's mayhem. Over here in the USA millions of 'young adults' are actually reading the Twilight novels which, like JK Rowling's work, has made them familiar with books (even quite fat books.) I will look at this phenomenom sometime soon but Stephenie Meyer's first book 'Twilight', a vampire-romance novel ( Little Brown, New York ) published in far off 2005, can fetch $1000+ and even the 2006 London edition from Atom can fetch £180.

On one of the Twilight websites a discussion broke out about reading on Kindle with 2/3 of the YA's being pro-book and about a third of them Kindle enthusiasts or users of both platforms. A few views from the Twilight world:
'I bought my Kindle just so I wouldn’t have to drag around 10 lbs of Twilight books with me when I travel! (It paid for itself when I forked over the extra fine’s for overweight luggage a few times!) I have to say that I love the convenience of Kindle on the road but I still grab my books whenever I am home!'

'...a dog-eared book is BEAUTIFUL to those who understand it’s beauty: having the book to hold in your hands is soooooo much nicer than just absorbing the story, either through audio book or kindle. i want the book in my hands. it makes me feel…. complete.'

 My Kindle is my favorite possession, hands down! And those who get headaches reading from a screen… you most likely won’t have that problem with a Kindle, it looks just like a book page, it uses ink! AND you can change the font size, so in fact, it can drastically help those who get eye strain, etc.
 And just think of all those trees that will be saved! Hahaha!
 Not to mention how much easier it is to hold than a thick book… being able to take 1500 books on travel… and let me tell you how much I love being kept waiting in doctor’s offices, take out places, and the DMV now!'

Talking of Poe I have been reading one of his tales of ratiocination 'The Mystery of Marie RogĂȘt", a sequel to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". I downloaded it for a dollar onto an Iphone along with many other of his stories. Reading is easy and it is particularly convenient for badly lit places like airliners at night, motel beds and bus stops. It's not the same as reading a book, it seems slower and it is slightly harder to browse or skip...boring passages seem even duller on a screen. Hard to imagine ploughing through 'War and Peace' on a cellphone, but the short stories of the 'divine Edgar' (as Humbert Humbert called him) are ideal. I hadn't realised that Poe was not only writing some of the first detective fiction but also in 'Marie Roget' the first forensic thriller -- a 100 years before Reichs and Cornwall were born. There are no blowflies but serious medical knowhow and mycology...
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