I seem to be coming down with a cold. The first in about four years. But I have an enormous stock of whisky, and plenty of honey, and even some lemon, to mix into hot and heady brews.
I suppose that one day all books will be published this way, and Kindle is just the precursor of e-books that will get ever lighter and more sophisticated.
I was quite pleasantly surprised. The Kindle’s screen isn’t backlit, but is surprisingly readable even with quite low light levels. And I quickly realised that one advantage of books in this form is that it isn’t necessary to hold them open – like more or less every paperback I’ve ever read.
And it was also rather surprising that, no sooner had I ordered the book using the Kindle reader, than the opening page appeared on its screen, ready to read. It shouldn’t have been surprising, but it was. I think that’s because my lifetime experience of buying books has usually involved visiting some distant bookshop, wandering among its shelves, selecting the books and then paying for them, and then lugging them home by train before finally opening them. Now all those hours had been condensed into a couple of minutes. It was instant gratification.
I’m not entirely sure if that’s entirely a good thing though. Back when buying a book took a considerable effort, books were arguably much more precious because much more had been invested in purchasing them. It would have been unthinkable, having gone to the trouble to buy a book, to not bother to read it. And the ‘book experience’ wasn’t just the reading, but also the buying and the handling and the opening, and much else besides.
Something of the same got lost when music stopped being sold on big grooved plastic records, which were released by some mysterious mechanism to fall onto a turntable, towards which a needle arm would uncertainly approach. The records had covers which were almost as important as the musical content. And that all began to vanish when cassette tapes and CDs started appearing. And even though they were simpler and more reliable, a little bit of the magic went out of the music.
Same with pubs, I suppose. As places to go and mechanically drink, it’s probably best that they be smoke-free. But all the magic went out of pubs and cafes once smoking was banned. And the magic, not the mechanical process of drinking, was what really mattered.