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...


Edwin Moore said...

I've passed on your debate with Selena to several others, all find it fascinating.

Wouldn't worry about

'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. '

'Twas ever thus surely! And your Twilight foray shows that nothing much changes.

Re Horace, there's a parody of Huxley by Cyril Connolly in which a guest at a Huxleyite residence finds a copy of the odes by his bed, 'apparently a first edition'. Wonderful.

Edwin Moore said...

Or perhaps one should say 'mirabile dictu'

Bookride said...

Reassuring words there Edwin. Must look out for Cyril 'Smarty Boots' Huxley parody. I like his Brian Howard spoof "Where Engels Fears to Tread" and his book collector maniac Edax.

Talking of Horace we had a van driver the immortal Bill Selwyn who used to read Horace sitting in the van while we were out buying --got a feeling it was in Latin too. He also used to read Orison Swett Marden - why I am not sure.

Bonky said...

Funny you should mention Droogs--in Clockwork Orange they end up at a house full of books and it gets very nasty. Burgess was on to something there. Bonky

Tim Mayer said...

I just finished MELMOTH THE WANDERER on a PDA. Pain to read, but it was a lot easier than lugging around a 600 page book. I agree, the small display made Maturin's terse verbiage worse.
On a brighter note, Sony is pushing both their 300 and 600 series Reader to compete with the Kindle. The 900 series Daily Reader with a 7" screen and Wifi ability will be out in January.

Unknown said...

I'm reading War & Peace on my iPod. The words are the same on screen as on paper. The fact that there are boring passages doesn't change. And with the iPod I can crank up some heavy techno music to ease the pain.

I still read a 'proper' book in bed though. My iPod is only for journeys or when I'm out and about and made to wait.