Lord's Library

I’m not entirely sure whether the – Bookwitch – jury is still out on this, or not. To e or not to e? Well, actually, I will e(book) if and when the need arises. I’d be silly not to. But I’m more or less with Blue Peter on this.

They went to great trouble to test e-readers versus good old paper. It might not have been totally serious or scientific, but I was quite impressed by the exercise of letting a tank run over the two competitors. The e-reader survived, but the paper book survived more, if you can put it that way?

Take my (no longer so) recent train trip to Glasgow. Eight hours there and back. The way to justify all that time was to take books to read. Get a lot of reading done. I usually take more than one, since I never know if I’ll end up hating one. On that basis, perhaps three books, considering the length of the journey?

A Kindle would be ideal, and would prevent the bag getting too heavy (with a laptop in there, it was already too heavy) and too fat. Umpteen books in one small packet. But what if the battery ran out? Better take one paper book. So, in reality I took the equivalent of two, anyway.

And what about the funny people you encounter on planes? I have yet to find any consistency from one crew member to another, and I need to read when sitting there waiting for take-off slots, and to take my mind off bumps. So I can’t afford someone coming along demanding my electronic gadget is put away for (here you insert whatever stupid reason such people might come up with), which could be five minutes or five hours.

So, paper book it is.

Holidays. Could take ten books with little effort. Between us, the Resident IT Consultant and I could share twenty. But unless we have an e-reader each, we can’t share.

Reviews. Yes. Publishers can club together to pay for e-readers for people on their current mailing lists (except they probably wouldn’t, or couldn’t) and then send out ebooks (and that’s the death knell to Royal Mail). Handy. Except, if the book isn’t only published as an ebook, there is no way of getting all touchy-feely with some of the lovelier aspects of books where a lot of thought has gone into the design.

Suzanne Selfors, Mad Love

Loking at my (I mean the Kindle belonging to the Resident IT Consultant, of course) grey and boring e-reader I would never get those pink twinges I experienced over Suzanne Selfors’s Mad Love.

I could never do a header photograph like my new header. There would be just the one ‘book’ and no hope of rainbows anywhere.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I gather there are skins you can buy. Sounds decadent, and not very vegetarian, but quite nice. You can even have a custom made skin. Saw a blog post by an author who tried out customised skins from her own (paper) cover designs. It looked great! And I do think that’s a nicer way to adorn an e-reader than the ever-changing pictures that pop up on the Kindle. Nice enough, but you’re not in control. And there is no colour.

I have read some ebooks now, and it’s been OK. But I find I need to remember they exist. The e-reader alone does not remind me that I have six exciting titles to read, the way six books would. That’s partly why Philip Caveney hasn’t been getting the attention his new ebook deserves. I’m not in an ebook mood.

It’s great the way you can alter the size of the font. But you never know what page you are on. (Or even how many ‘normal’ pages there are. Percentages are all very well, but if you can’t see what the 48% is 48% of…) Also, I needed to alert one author to a mistake that I was sure she would want to correct, but what page would it be at her end?


There are good and bad things for both options. But I prefer books made of paper. I even prefer the mess they make on my shelves. Which is funny, because the minimalist in me ought to be more than ready for a life with one book. Like the chap at the top of this post. I’d love to have visitors admiring my ‘selection.’

13 responses to “E?

  1. A guy came to the bookstore I work in to do a book presentation last night. His name is Lloyd Kahn and his latest book is called Tiny Homes. It is a tremendously popular concept right now, but all I could think was, I can live in a tiny home, I pretty much do now, but what are you supposed to do with all the books?

    I suppose an ereader could solve that, and yet, it doesn’t seem a particularly HAPPY solution somehow.

  2. My home is just the right size, sort of in the Goldilocks zone to go all Physics-y on you. Still doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem with books. Especially since I want to have space to hang pictures on the walls and not just cover them with shelves. Though, as you can see, I have been known to ‘temporarily’ half hide pictures with piles of ‘temporarily’ stacked books. Initially I believed that these half-height bookcases were ideal, allowing me to have both books and art.
    I was always an idiot.

  3. I have learned to love my kindle and it does help with space saving but it will never replace real books for me. There is something about holding a beautifully desinged book that is special in a way only bibliophiles can understand. And beauty is the way to go for book sellers. I could have bought The Night Circus on kindle much cheaper than the hardback but it was such a lovely book I knew I would regret not buying its physical incarnation. But my big dilemma is, with two young children I am encouraging to read, is that the ebook sitting in my handbag will not encourage them to browse or be attracted to books that will open them up to brave new worlds. So if I think the book is amazing, do I spend yet more money buying it physically to get the girls to read it? And if I love a particular author should I buy half their works in paper, half electronically so I can still save on space? Yet this will drive me crazy as I will look at my shelves and feel my collection is incomplete. Because I am anal about my books. The dillemmas of 21st Century living! And I need room for art too – especially as my tastes run to big, dramatic canvases.

  4. Yes, that carelessly abandoned book which just happened to lie where reluctant reader might pick it up and accidentally…
    No, not possible in e.
    Luckily for me, my wallet prevents those large canvases from entering Bookwitch Towers, although I know of several I’d happily adopt.

  5. What about MY large canvases…??!!

  6. I think we are all going to be driven half crazy as Che Golden said by technological decisions. The hazards of living in a transition era, I think.

  7. Carol Robinson

    Husband purchased 3G wifi kindle with keyboard for 3 month winter vacation! It is very handy when travelling (most of year). However discovered this week that the 3G does not work on my bohemian island, along with other 3rd world countries! So did I download the 4 books I purchased this week or pay twice the price for the paper editions. No contest ! The kindle really is quite horrid and once again I went for the “real ” thing! Loved Sally Nicholls “All Fall Down”!

  8. Oh, so you thrive on death?
    The solution to the 3G must be to never go home. Keep travelling the world. Simple.

  9. I am sure I´ll never stop reading paper books, but I can see an emerging pattern: I get Scandinavian books from the library, British books as used paperbacks and Overseas books as ebooks.

    And if it weren´t for the e-book, I don´t think I would have plucked up the courage to publish anything yet. With my readers scattered all over the world, the ebook solution is much more manageable.

  10. And I wouldn’t have read and reviewed your story collection…

  11. And what a loss that would be for me!

    (Thank you, I saw it, but sometimes I don´t comment on reviews as I fear other commentors won´t express their opinions if the writer was there).

  12. The thing to do is let others insult your you and your work, and then step in and act all hurt… (As if they would!)

    I’m sure you could almost buy half an icecream for what the book cost me.

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