There's a meme doing the rounds on Facebook all about books and reading. A nicely drawn little cartoon character is seen in all kinds of situations, contentedly reading his book or imagining other worlds, while screens of various kinds - some of them unmistakably Kindles or eReaders - are depicted as the villains of the piece.
It is - let's face it - nonsense. Mainly because it deliberately and quite irritatingly confuses the medium with the message. It reminds me a bit of the time when word processors arrived, and various writers resisted writing on them, telling me that they really enjoyed typing up five or six or more whole versions of a piece of work. Before that it was longhand, and I'm pretty sure there must have been people saying 'ah - but the smell of the quill pen. Nothing quite like it.'
I write books. I love physical books, especially old ones. I possess a lot of books. Thousands probably although I've never counted. I love the scent of old books - that slightly musty, slightly aromatic scent - just like I love the scent of old textiles. New books, not so much. Let's face it, they smell of paper. Open a packet of bog roll and you get much the same scent.
I love my Kindle. My elderly Paperwhite that has been used every single day for years is slowing down, so I'm going to have to invest in another one very soon.
I wouldn't be without it. I'm fairly insomniac these days, so my Kindle allows me to read on well into the night, or to wake up in the early hours and keep reading. If I fall asleep, it will power itself down, quietly, and when I switch it on, it will take me back to the place where I left off. I can change the font and I can adjust the brightness, so that if I'm reading in the dark, I can keep the light down so that I don't wake my husband. I can look up unfamiliar words, make notes, highlight parts I want to go back to, and if I finish my book at three in the morning and want to start another one, it can be there in seconds.
|Gorgeous herring bone bound tooled leather Old Testament |
belonging to Elizabeth McLehose.
There is the book as a concept, a world I work on and enter into and spend months and sometimes years of my time creating. And then there's the book as an artefact. Some of them are very beautiful indeed, like the one above and some of them are just handy containers for stories, ideas, concepts. My publisher designs and produces beautiful books. It's a skill and the covers are perfect for each of my books.
But I still love my Kindle, especially for reading fiction. When I read in the dark, I'm there, in the world of the book. The better the book, the more this feeling seems to happen. I remember reading China Mieville's The City & The City, right through a couple of nights - dozing, dreaming about the book, waking to read more. The closest I can come to describing it is the way a good radio drama will draw you in, so that you are there, in the world of the play with nothing intervening.
What's not to like about that?