Thursday, 22 November 2007


So the great wave of publicity, not to mention scepticism, rises from for their flag-ship tech: the Kindle.

For those not in the know, the Kindle is an e-reader the like of which has been seen before, but with the backing of a major retailer (which hasn’t been seen before). I’m raising this here on the Macmillan New Writers blog because as authors on one of the few imprints in the UK to actually publish their novels as e-books, we have a vested interest in how well, or badly the Kindle does.

My personal view is that you can’t beat a good paperback. You can take them anywhere, you can read them on the beach, in the bath, on the loo – and if they fall apart, so what? They only cost the price of a cheap bottle of wine (less if you buy them second hand). I wouldn’t be reading the Kindle on the beach, and certainly wouldn’t read it in the bath.

But having said that, books are instantaneously downloaded when you want them, as are newspapers, and even blogs. It doesn’t look bad either, and if like me, you have a real problem with book-space, it’s a saver there too…

…Even if the price of the unit is – at the moment - extortionate.


Janet said...

I am waiting to see how everything shakes out. The early adopters can pay the high prices and help work out the bugs. Then if the price gets reasonable and all the nightmare scenarios envisioned by die-hard lovers of ink and paper don't come true, I'll give it serious consideration. One thing I am wondering though is whether we'll be able to only download ebooks offered by Amazon. That would be a deal-killer for me.

Tim Stretton said...

I could never--and still can't--see the point of txt msging. So I'm not the best to forsee the technology of the future. That said, I can't see this being more than a minority development. More of the pleasure of reading than writers would like to admit is aesthetic and tactile.

David Isaak said...

Well, if you're going to insist on e-books, this is a step in the right direction. And the technology may allow us to hide zillions of books easily when the book-burners come to power.

Pamela reads books on her PalmPilot when she travels--even books where she owns a hard copy at home. Easier than lugging 50 books. (Not to mention that she has all of the novels I've written on her Palm--there's conversion software from Word.)

If you're enthusiastic about an e-book world (I'm not), then this is a step closer.

Back in the 1960s, a lot of futurists were predicting that by now we'd all be eating nothing but frozen dinners, or stuff out of tubes, or even just swallowing pills. And eating habits have changed, but in a far more complex way than anyone foresaw, with industrial junk food playing a prominent role, but fresh basil and goat cheese being sold in middle-class grocery stores, and Dad (who thought Dad would cook) producing hame-made pasta.

The future of reading is probably some mix of things we can't imagine. (Though I'd be happy to stick with paper and ink.)