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.)