Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Books Vs E-Books response To Alexander McCall Smith Face Book Posting

Alexander, If I may be so presumptuous in addressing you by your fist name as no formal introductions have been made, however as my better half hails from Edinburgh I feel there is at least a three degree of separation between us and it being such a small and provincial town... anyway to the point, which is the e-book issue.

While you confess to reading an e book you do not tell us if you actually own one or if you were reading it on your computer? No matter, a small point but one does detect the slightest whiff of superiority and maybe just a hint of condescension in your comments about e- books and those that choose to read in that format.  No amount of flowering around the garden with your usual delightful use of prose in your Face Book  ‘note’ posted 29th June  2011, can hide these facts!

Please, please Alexander, do not take this as a personal attack on you, nor indeed on anyone else of similar thoughts.  In fact the opposite is indeed uppermost in my mind as I type this response as I try and measure my comments as carefully as you chose yours and always with the thought, ‘be careful what you write because this chap has brought so much pleasure to you over the last few years since your discovery of Mme Ramotswe, Bertie, Isabel and all the rest of the wonderful inhabitants of his mind that must be contained in a head with obvious 'Tardis’ sized proportions to contain all those wonderful characters and storyline’s

Anyway, Books versus e-readers,  I agree that there is nothing absolutely nothing that can take away from the tactile sensations of holding, especially for the first time, a new book, for me, preferably in hardback, but that is me probably being more than a little slightly pompous.  You get that book either in the mail or you have just been to the bookstore and brought it home in the ubiquitous plastic carrier, you take it out, or you unwrap as delivered by the postman and you hold it in your hands turning it over, the cover is inspected as is the spine and then the back cover. Anticipations are building and indeed even some tenseness, especially if it is a book from a favourite such as Alexander McCall Smith, that you have been anticipating getting your hands on for many months.  This happens with me regularly, and for your books I might add here.

So, you have that new book in your hands and it has past first muster inspection and you pull open the cover to the first page, the fly leaf becomes clear and you read while being slightly distracted, but not in a bad way, if the inside cover and facing page have a design motif on them, row upon row of No 44 Scotland Street in ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Scones’,  Elephants, Oil cans and Lizards in ‘The Good Husband of Zebra Drive’ or a lovely pale green empty space in, ‘The Careful Use of Compliments’ someone I know always refers to it as ‘The Careful Use of Condiments’, bless.... You carefully turn over the next couple of pages, and here I have to confess to what is probably a little bit of a strange indulgence or peccadillo, I look at the; First published, Copyright, All rights, Typeset, Library Catalogue details, don’t ask, I have no explanation for the strangeness that overtakes me when opening a new book, and, I guess to an extent it might be that I want to savour every single page of this delicious mind feeding entity that I am holding in my hands, who knows....

Then, then we turn over another page and we find the beginning of the best time of your life for the next indeterminable period of time, that is for however long you are curled up on the sofa, in bed, on the train or sitting in the park, engrossed in the story that someone like Alexander McCall Smith, or other author of choice, has so graciously chosen to deliver to us, it is almost too difficult to describe the sensations that flow through you when reading a good novel.  Authors, of whatever calibre and ability should be almost revered for the enjoyment they bring to so many millions of people each and every day.  A Novel can be heart warming, it can be funny, it can be dangerous.  You can be relaxed one minute and tense the next, reading one last week I was literally breathless and a little afeared one minute and the next I was welling up, not one of your sAlexander, but a self published author by the name of Michael R Hicks.

And do you know what the difference is between McCall Smith and Hicks Novels is, in my hands at least, I have never read any of Alexanders books on my Kindle (yet) But I have read five of Mr Hicks books in the last two weeks, all on Kindle.

You see, Alexander I agree with you, the BOOK in written format on paper should never ever be consigned to a book shelve just as an antiquity, as long as we can plant sufficient trees to help eat the bad things that we put into the air that we breathe, and we can spare some to pulp down into paper, we should continue to hold that wonderful cornucopia of words and thrill at the joy of discovering new adventures, whether they be gentle beautiful stories that you give us, or ripping sea adventures from Julian Stockwin and his Captain Kydd series of novels, or the gut wrenching, planet exploding, double dealing love stories that Michael R Hicks gives us, they should always and forever be produced in book format. But, if the same pleasure can be got from an e-book, minus clearly the feel and texture of the actual BOOK, and it can and it does, then I for one have welcomed  albeit with reservations to begin with, when first presented with it by my wife Ishbel at Christmas last.  

My final comments are these, BOOKS as you know are so expensive these days, and while some authors still have published works  in e-books for as much, and in some cases more expensive then the BOOK (what's going on there) the vast majority of books are very reasonably priced in this format and much more so than in book stores, and in many cases, like libraries they are free, but you do not have to return them.  This is something that actual BOOK retailers and libraries need to seriously start dealing with, better than they appear to be so doing at the moment,.  The need and must develop strategies for I,  for one,  will lament the day that we see even more book stores and libraries closing en masse.   I love my Kindle, but I love browsing and buying, in fact in my wallet I have two gift cards for BOOKS received gratefully recently, conversely I also have credit in my Amazon account, also received as a gift, that I use for my Kindle books.  My eldest grand daughter turned eight in April, along with other bits and bobs she received three books from us and a BOOK diary to make notes in, and she was delighted to inform me that as well as the fancy hand held game thing she has, that she got games for she also received toys and clothes, 'I also got a total of 49, yes 49 BOOKS granddad'.  That's lovely I thought and I am so proud of her but I do hope she doesn't forget to play as well! And, she loves my Kindle.

So, Alexander if my interpretation of your comments are completely wrong, I apologise Sir, but I think it behoves Authors of all ilks to embrace this new technology and insist that where they have publishers that they make all of their works available in both formats from the outset and don't be disdainful of e-books as opposed to BOOKS , we the readers of books enjoy both, and for those out there who have not tried an e-reader don't turn your nose up at it until you have at least given it a fair trial.

With deepest respect to you and other authors dead and alive who continue to give me so much pleasure...
[RIP Hans Falllada]

Best Wishes 


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