Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Kindle Surprise

Seven years ago, in a flush of ignorance over changing technology, I wrote an excoriating (and excruciating) blog on the subject of the Kindle, which still brings on a blush of shame. Not long afterwards, I acquired my first Kindle – for practical reasons - and soon, I was singing its praises. It has made life much easier in many ways. In a nutshell, I put Kindle in my bag before a plane or train journey, and have access to my reading material, downloaded books, periodicals, documents for editing, and so on. I simply adore my latest Kindle Paperwhite. And yet…and yet, I am delighted to see that sales of physical books are not only buoyant, but on the up. What follows is an unedited excerpt from my original article.
“How can you simulate the experience of going into a bookshop to row upon row of enticingly-entitled and beckoning, multi-coloured spines? How do you mimic the feel of newly-minted pages, the smell of ink, the romance of the illustrations, the glorious feeling of possession once you have bought the book? One, worrying prediction about these devices is that once they are accepted as being the ‘norm’, printed books, both new and second-hand, will become fewer in number and more expensive. Fine for a middle-class family that will boast a bookcase filled with books, and can still distribute a Kindle to each of the kinder, but what does it bode for the literacy levels of the less-well-off? Indeed, all children will be affected. One of my earliest memories is being mesmerised by the sight of a book. If Baby doesn’t see a shelf load of books over his cot for the first years of his life, then how can he grow to be a reader? And what about that inimitable experience, being read a bedtime story from a book filled with colour pictures, by Mum or Dad? And what about the playbook, that repository of endless touching, feeling, hugging? Is this entire slice of childhood to be cut out by an impersonal metal gadget, one that Baby’s tiny fingers can’t manipulate, let alone connect with what is going on on the screen? As I said at the outset of this post, I don’t see how the Kindle can replace the book.”
Well, it hasn’t and it won’t and, judging by the latest news from the publishing world (follow links to Danuta Kean and Zoe Wood), it never will. Kindle, I love you and would not be without, but nothing will EVER replace the book.

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