I don't personally own a Kindle or any other kind of e-book reader. My wife does, and although she only occasionally reads a book on it, finds the experience pleasant. I sometimes read a book on my PC - this isn't entirely convenient, because it maroons me at my workstation, but it's useful occasionally. The obvious drawback of e-readers from my writer's perspective is the missed opportunity for promotion. The print version of a book is like a walking advertisement. Imagine getting into your morning commuter train: you've just finished your book on Kindle and can't think which if any of the 3791 free downloads on the machine you'd like to start next? You look around and notice half a dozen (deeply engrossed naturally!) individuals reading the print version of a book called Niedermayer & Hart. You note the name of the author, one you don't know, and then you notice another half a dozen people in your carriage are reading another M J Johnson title called Roadrage. You do a search, take advantage of the cheaper price on Kindle and download it immediately ... oops ... floated away for a moment there along the river of fame and fortune on the sweet raft of unbounded literary success ... tapocketa ... tapocketa ... tapocketa ...
Seriously though, if print ceased to exist, this long established, simple but effective form of marketing would disappear. It also strikes me that to lose printed books and the interest they generate will only help to make us more insular - which to my mind can't be a good thing - we already spend far too much time locked away in our own little worlds, glued to one screen or another. What I particularly like about print books is a willingness to declare to the world what's being read. You'd undoubtedly be viewed with some suspicion if you got on the morning bus or tube train and took out a book in a brown, plain paper cover. I suppose for some people e-readers make 'naughty stuff' possible, I understand that erotic literature is a rapidly expanding market (no intentional double entendre!).
On holiday last summer I struck up a conversation with an Englishwoman I saw sitting in our hotel's delightful garden. I observed she was reading a thriller by a well known author I'd personally never read. Christine had picked it up for 50p in a charity shop the day they left home and passed it on to me once she'd finished it - another thing you can't do with an e-reader! She and her husband Brian, a lovely couple and both dedicated walkers, were from Yorkshire. We talked books with them on several occasions. If you're a reader, just consider the number of ice-breaking conversations you've had in your lifetime that were initiated by books. I told Brian that I'd been given some of the William Brown books by Richmal Crompton for my birthday this year, and remarked on how much I'd loved them as a youngster.
"I can't really say I was all that fussed about the William books when I were a lad," said Brian.
"Really?" I asked, possibly displaying some incredulity without meaning to appear rude. "What did you used to read as a boy, then?" I asked.
Brian, a twinkle in his eye, stuck out his chest with manful pride and proclaimed,"Captain W E Johns!"
"Biggles!" I said, "Now you're talking!"
We went on to talk 'Biggles'. I think our wives may have fallen asleep at this point.
Niedermayer & Hart and Roadrage by M J Johnson are available in print and e-book versions:- Click here to buy a print version directly from this site
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