I don’t have an e-reader yet. When I was growing up, you never saw one outside of science fiction. You’d read novels set hundreds or thousands of years in the future and everybody in them would have shelves of book spools or tablets. Come to think of it, in the TV series of Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, made in the 1980s, the alien Ford Prefect handed earthling Arthur Dent what looked like something we’d recognise now as an e-reader.
Now that they’re all over the place, not that far into the twenty-first century, what are they going to do in three or four hundred years? Have a chip installed in their heads, perhaps, to deliver books directly to your brain? Urk!
There’s something magical about choosing a book on-line and downloading it straight to your e-reader or even your phone. A friend who had bought his Kindle at the supermarket demonstrated by buying my novel Wolfborn from Amazon and downloading it straight to his e-reader. “Ooh!’ I breathed in wonder.
Another nice thing about it is the lightness instead of carrying a load of books with you, you can carry a whole lot on your little reader that goes in your bag or pocket. You can change the font size– terrific for people with poor eyesight.
The fact that a lot of these readers have pre-loaded books means that you might read something you wouldn’t choose in a bookshop of a library; one of my students is reading Frankenstein because it came free with the reader. That has to be a good thing.
And yet – for me, there’s nothing like the feel and smell of paper, the curling up in bed with your book, the overcrowded book cases in my study. You could put an entire encyclopaedia on e-reader, I suppose, but why not just go on-line where it would be up to date?
Because I don’t read non-fiction just for research, I like to browse the bookshops and libraries for books I might enjoy; you’d have to have some idea of what you want to get it from a web site. It’s just not the same as discovering that book about astronomy of the Middle Ages or the Faeries of Brittany.
Tell me you can do that on-line, ordering from a catalogue!
Guys, this post is shorter than most I’ve done so far because it’s getting late and tomorrow I’m heading up to Bendigo with a bunch of other writers from Ford Street Publishing to do some workshops at a school there. Wish me luck and if you’re going to be there, do come up and say hi!