One of the books on my Christmas list was Shaun Bythell’s The Diary of a Book-Seller – and what a great read it turned out to be. The frustrations of the book-seller’s life are many and they include customers who browse and then buy the book from Amazon online. At one point he shoots a broken Kindle, mounts it in the style of a deer’s head, and hangs it on a wall in the bookshop with the inscription ‘Amazon Kindle Shot by Shaun Bythell, 24 August 2014, near Newton Stewart.’
I am not tempted to shoot my own Kindle, but this has got me thinking about little I use it. There was a honeymoon period when I first got it five years ago, when I used it a lot. I do still take it on holiday with me, and sometimes to read on the train to London, but at home weeks can go by without my opening it. At one time I used to read it in bed when I couldn’t sleep, but now I listened to an audiobook instead. I’ve realised that the light from the screen keeps me awake, and so I don’t read it last thing either. And it seems unwise to read it in the bath . . .
In all sorts of ways I am happier with a print version of a book, especially if is a book that I want to re-read. I like to be able to flip back and forward. I like the book as an object, the cover, the look of the type on the page. If it’s not a book I’ll want to read again, I still like a print version that I can take to a charity shop so that someone can buy it and perhaps be introduced to a new writer and go on to buy their other books.
It seems I am not alone. There was a lot of publicity last year about a drop in e-book sales and a resurgence of the printed book. So, how about you? E-book or (as I think of it) real book?