Friday, 25 February 2011

To Kindle or not to Kindle...

I buy too many books. They are generally trashy horror, slash, mystery, murder, zombie, haunting, pot-boilers - although I do have an unread Umberto Eco somewhere and some ‘three for a fiver’ Dickens classics.

The space (or rather the lack of it) at the side of my bed is a monument to cheap literature and underneath the bed it’s even worse. There are some books buried in there that haven’t even been written yet. They lie mysteriously waiting for me to drag them out and read them.

Books. They are such a conundrum. I hardly ever read a book twice so why do I feel that I can’t be rid of one once I’ve read it? Surely I could pass it on, sell it, take it down the charity shop – anything just so long as I don’t throw it away. That would be a sin and I’d be doomed to the fires of a book-devoid hell forever.

Some books have to be kept. Like my hardback illustrated Edward Lear (On the top of the Crumpetty Tree the Quangle Wangle sat, but his face you could not see, on account of his Beaver Hat.), but how can I account for my Guy N. Smith’s ‘Night of the Crabs’?

I’m thinking of buying an e-reader simply so that I don't have to pick my way through book debris to get to my bed to read. I do most of my reading in bed and sometimes the weight of the book, held high above my head, becomes unbearable. This is particularly true of Stephen King hardbacks - I can never wait patiently for the much lighter paperback version.

Bed reading is particularly hard at the beginning and end of a book. The pages at the start and finish simply don’t turn or hold as well as those in the middle, and I’m constantly losing my place or dropping the damn things. The number of times I’ve woken up with a folio on my face or a tome in my ear.

Yes, an e-reader would solve all of this. A single page and light as a feather. No ‘around and under’ bed storage problems. All my favourite books in a single place in an environmentally friendly (arguably) format. A good read at a fraction of the cost and without having to leave the house to go to the supermarket or one of the few bookshops that still remain in business these days.

It’s a persuasive argument - Guy N. Smith’s ‘Night of the Crabs’ in a Kindle edition on Amazon is just £2.15 whilst a brand new paperback published in 1980 will cost you £127.95 (that's what it says).

I’ve got a lot of reading coming up (it’s an education thing) lots of books, big ones! I don’t think the bed will take it. Maybe a Kindle really is the answer – it’ll store 3,500 books, has battery life of a month, a dictionary, you can choose your font, change the text size - the devilish device will even read out loud to you!

I know. I know… what about the thrill of opening that first page, the smell of the paper, the tangibility of its solid reality, the rustle of the pages, the dust jacket. Ah yes, The Dust Jacket, the most annoying piece of paper known to man! Guaranteed to rip, and crease, fall off, and eventually get lost under the bed leaving the poor stark book naked in its dowdy paper-cloth lining and gold lettered spine title.

Birthday’s coming up. Maybe I’ll get more than a book this year.

(By the way -that picture really is the pile by my bed and it goes back yards.)


  1. Interesting choice, "Night of the Crabs"... I'm sure there are one or two who've ended up with that as an unwanted birthday surprise... (although less so if they're paying THAT much).
    Still to be convinced by the e-reader argument, not least because it's tricky to get hold of a copy signed by the author, but I must learn to embrace change.

  2. just found 4 of his books on ebay.. £2.20 including night of the crabs...

    Bit like you the feel of a book is better and I never throw one away... but I have read some of them more than once..

  3. Andy Bickerdike commented on Facebook:
    BDNB.... books don't need batteries...

  4. Rob Mills commented on Facebook:
    "Going on your post yesterday, go for the Kindle. Better for the environment. I have friends who rave about the Kindle. "

  5. Paul Eddison commented on Facebook:
    "The kindle is fairly handy for taking on holiday or the train, mine broke just outside the warranty :( "

  6. Andrew Casson commented on Facebook:
    I have a Kindle. I'm not in love with it yet, but it's certainly more handy than a pile of books when flying with Ryanair (which I seem to be doing a lot of!) I'll stick with it, definitely.

  7. Phil Morgan commented on Facebook.
    Phil wrote "Kindle where weight and space is at a premium and good old books for most other times."

  8. If you put all your blogs together- publish in paper or digital?

  9. Mel wrote in a mail:

    At the moment i am left with a rather strange thought - The Night of the crabs and your bed!

    OK clearing my mind...

    I don't read a lot but very recently did read the millennium trilogy by Stieg Larson and must admit Lisbeth Salander is my hero.

    A good book or Blue-Ray for me is to be cherished. Having said that I have been considering a kindle even though I have an iPad. I love my iPad which you can use to read books but iTunes is expensive and the choice is no where near as good as available on a kindle.

    I will probably buy a kindle as I can keep the books and easily Mark passages of interest to go back to (I think). It's also another gadget!

    It looks and feels impressive - great for paper backs but not for books rich in colour and graphics - I would still buy those kind of books.

  10. Colin Tickle commented on Facebook:

  11. Scott Mitchell commented on Facebook.
    Scott wrote "Mom and Step Dad have one each and they can't speak highly enough of it. Biggest plus -mobility (or making it to the bed in time to read!), biggest downside is the cost of literature through normal channels.

  12. David Bell commented on Facebook.
    "Book every time - you can't swat flies with a Kindle"

  13. Colin Tickle commented Facebook:
    "You can, but only a limited number of times before it ceases to be useful as anything other than a fly swat."

  14. Liz Shore messaged on Facebook:

    I love my kindle, it's easy to read, the battery does last as long as they say (I got mine for xmas, read it every day and have only charged it once so far), you can put it down next to you and read it (something I never even thought of before owning one, but find it very useful!) and it saves Rik the embarrassment of having all of my 'chick lit' books on the bookshelf where his friends might see them!!

    I'm not sure I would use it for books that you don't read from cover to cover, such as text books because you don't get page numbers on it. It's also hard to flick back to a bit in a book if you want to re-cap and finally, it doesn't smell like a book!

    So far I have got all of my books from Amazon, Jacob has also worked out how to email pdfs from his computer to my kindle, so he has sent me a comic he wrote!!!

    Hope this rambling has been helpful.

  15. Richard Shore commented on Facebook:
    Richard wrote "I'm with you on the smell of a new book. I desperately wanted to not like Kindles, but they are very good. Just the right size and weight to hold comfortably; the eInk screens are incredible. The battery goes on forever, and there are loads of (leagaly) free books on project gutenberg. I think that, like music, there are two kinds of books. Some are consumable, a good read but nothing special. I don't think I'll ever have a problem only owning them in digital format. But some books need to be held, interacted with. Steinbeck or A. A. Milne can't be digital."

  16. Vicky Sutcliffe commented on Facebook:
    Books every time

  17. AKH - you need to clear out all those books, they are weight you are carrying around, a block to your creativity. Only keep books you would want to read again or which had such an impact on you that they deserve to stay. Give the rest to charity shops, you don't keep the wrapper on every bar of chocolate you ever ate did you?