|ExterFrog by Richard Faisey|
I resisted buying a Kindle for a long time, then I ran out of space to build more bookshelves. Since I bought my Kindle a week ago, I have already downloaded more books than I could have stored on the overburdened bookshelves in my tiny home (I call it The Bunker). Some of the classics were free in e-book format, or almost free (Complete Works of Shakespeare, Donne et al for 77p). New e-books are generally less expensive than tree books (print), although some buyers have cavilled at the price of new e-titles; but It is publishers who set the price and since more and more big publishing houses are developing their e- lists, they are taking full advantage of the market. Sooner or later, these prices will have to be more competitive, but I have not seen any e-title I'd like costing more than £8.00. In fact the most I've paid for an e-book so far is £4.99 - for Doris Lessing's 'The Good Terrorist' I'd searched bookshops for a printed version of Ernest Hemingway's 'A Moveable Feast' but I couldn't find a copy of this cherished novel anywhere, not even in London, where I scrutinised the shelves at Waterstones in Piccadilly, to no avail. Then I saw it on Amazon and dowloaded it direct to my Kindle in less than a minute. It took me back to Paris, that mythical Paris where I like to return sometimes to escape our Big Society-pushers. I've since downloaded thirty odd novels, plus my own three titles in BeWrite Books; ten books of poems, including collections of Keats, Byron, Shelley, Robert Frost and TS Eliot (all 77p); and a book about learning to play the guitar.
There are those, of course, who cleave to the tree-book like Luddites clinging to their spinning wheels. I have a house full of tree-books, some of which I could never bear to be parted from, although I have had to resort to periodic clear-outs. Recently, I had to cart a shed-load of tree-books down from my daughter's loft because cracks were appearing in my bedroom walls (I sleep downstairs). One of my home nurses had been telling me about the joys of owning a Kindle (she hads carpel tunnel syndrome and finds it awkward turning the pages of tree-books in bed); and when a woman at the last Society of Authors meeting I went to told me she had read my novels on Kindle, I thought I should get up to speed with what was happening in the ever-expanding world of E. Now I'm up and running, I can download my own work to the Kindle in document form, which will be handy if I have to go about doing readings - not that I do that very often, although there is one coming up in the summer on local radio. Instead of debating what I should take away to read and carting tree-books on the train, I can take the Kindle. I don't see it as an either-or, tree-book or e-book preference, but this is 2012: The E prefix is here to stay.