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Friday, 27 November 2009

I have been struck low with what I can only describe as medieval tooth trouble, had back molar removed under sedation originally given for the yearly cleaning of the teeth. I said to the dentist before going to sleep, ”Back tooth giving me a bit of jip.” Came round to find massive hole and no back molar! Two days of moaning and groaning okay, ten days later pain becomes unspeakable. Ended up in hospital with severe jaw infection, in A&E on a drip for the afternoon. This meant a lot of waiting around. Hospitals, as I discovered, are on a different time to the rest of the planet. They’re slower and the more you become stuck the more the real world becomes only visible from a glass window.

My one consolation was my brand new toy: a Kindle from Amazon. Bought it because I’m fascinated by these new e-readers and the general fear and awe they inspire in publishers and authors alike. My first attempt was with a Sony e-reader but it wasn’t compatible with my Apple. A pity as it meant I was unable to access the hundreds of free classics that came with it. All I could do was find a program on the internet that tricked the Sony reader into thinking it was a pc. It turned out to be useful in the end to read my manuscripts off, but really for little else. I could see though that they had a place in the joy of reading. So it was with great excitement I waited for my kindle to windle its way from the US to here and light my fire.

It’s without doubt a joy to behold and very well designed - not too heavy and very easy to understand. So there I was in hospital my jaw being prodded and then being told to wait for the doctor, it seemed churlish to ask how long, so heart sunk as plastic hospital tag was attached to arm. Most probably staying in all night. Panic! I’ve brought nothing with me what do I do? Then it struck me: why don’t I put my Kindle to the test? Having already set up an account with Amazon I searched for a book recommended to me by fellow writer and friend Ian Beck, it’s called ‘Child 44’ and it’s by Tom Rob Smith. Suddenly I was no longer in the hospital but in some snowy wood in the depths of Russia.

I think this is almost the ideal travelling companion. It can store more books than even the most voracious reader could get through on a holiday and can be wiped clean and new books added as well as newspapers and magazines. All arriving into the Kindle with the greatest of ease. The typescript can be blown up to a larger scale; useful for people like me who have problems with text, especially when it starts doing acrobatics. It also has a read back program although I haven’t tried it out yet. In my humble view anything (and I mean anything) that can help people to read and love books is fine and dandy.

I don’t believe for a moment that it will replace books or bookshops or the love of owning a brand new book that no one has read before. In fact I think if you read something you love you might well want to own the paper book even more. You can’t flick through your Kindle you must read it in a linear fashion. A book is an object that asks only for the energy of your mind and rather than needing to be recharged, it will wait a lifetime for you to finish it and its battery will never be flat. Also there is that certain perfume books have, like a fine wine it gets better with age.

The e-reader’s only problem as far as I can see is that it will suffer from the same mobile phone trouble - too many and too many companies, some only working with this publishing house or that pc; rather like the Sony e-reader. Interesting to note that apparently Random House haven’t signed up to the Kindle Amazon deal and I wonder if they’re planning on bringing out there own e-reader… No doubt Apple also has something up their ever-expanding sleeve.

So in my humble opinion I think this is something to embrace and put to good use. I remember when there was all that talk that TV would stop radio. Yet it seems TV is the one wilting on the vine and it’s radio that has gone from strength to strength. So before all writers, authors and publishers out there have a heart attack, take a deep breath and try one.

1 comment:

Beatrice Taylor said...
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