Why did no one ever tell me how lovely the Kindle is? It’s sleek, beautiful, a doddle to use, and when you ‘put it to sleep’ (bless!) it shows you a nice little drawing of an author, at random. Or a selection of fish (the current screensaver, for some odd reason).
This cute little gadget couldn’t really be the murder weapon responsible for the death of paper literature, could it? It’s so lovely to touch, so pleasingly smooth, and it holds so much in its TARDIS-like case. Or it will do. On Christmas Day I scanned the Kindle charts, looking for bargains – until I noticed that these were the PAYING for charts. There is a FREE chart! Yes, you can download out of date classics for nothing! I cursed my recklessness for downloading the complete Jane Austen when I could have grabbed each book individually for free. A whole 74p wasted! At these prices, or non-prices, could we see the likes of Dickens galloping back up the charts again, knocking Katie Price off for good? Music downloads are allowing old favourites to return to the charts, so why shouldn’t that happen in book sales?
In terms of ease of use, the Kindle really doesn’t need much explanation. From the Home menu, just visit the Kindle store through the built-in WIFI connection, and choose your book. Your Amazon Instant Click button will tempt you to grab everything you see. In a few minutes, your book of choice will be sitting there on your menu, ready to read. Just select it and use the arrow buttons on the sides of your Kindle to move back and forth through the pages. Your clever new friend will remember where you are when you switch off.
Do I miss the feel of a book? Strangely, I only miss not having the physical book when I’ve finished. I can’t show off Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron on my shelves for all to see, even though it’s one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years. I can’t lend it to anyone either. And anyone who saw me reading it over the last few days would never have known what I was so engrossed in. From an author’s point of view these are points for concern. Valuable advertising opportunities are just not there when a book is on an e-reader.
On the other hand I think readers will be devouring more books than ever. One only has to think of a book one wants, grab the Kindle and download it. Instant gratification. No more squeezing thick books on to thinning shelf space. No more heavy holiday luggage or last minute trawls round airport bookshops. Just a whole library in your pocket.