Monday 17 May 2010

Reader Ecstasy

I was at a party in 1997 or so. I'd drunk too much, had taken medication that left me unable to read others and their reactions and was bristling for an argument.

I found one with the man who owned the house we'd turned into an all-nighter. He had the computer on, was browsing on the web and showing it off. He was handsome, interesting, lived in Hampstead and had a lovely actress wife. I guess I was jealous as hell.

I decided to side with the Luddites, made a shambolic objection on some kind of political or economic grounds that it was all nonsense, a waste of people's lives, a capitalist monstrosity.

The man, who knew what he was talking about, thought I was crazy. He was right.

I managed to clear the room and ended up sitting alone, utterly perplexed.

Next time I saw him with his lovely wife was at our mutual friend's film screening at the Everyman. I sidled up and apologised. It was painfully embarrassing for me in the sober light of day. Not something I enjoyed. Thankfully he had more good grace than I and accepted the apology. In truth, I don't think he had even seen me, hardly recognised me at all. I could have let it go. I was forced by some deep seated need in me to say sorry. Damn my conscience.

It feels like I'm in a better place these days. Electronic Technologies and on-line developments are just things that happen. More than anything else, my pursuit of hardware is limited by financial restrictions rather than principle.

Which, having beaten around the bush, brings me to e-books.

I know they're here. I know there are great reasons to get one. I also know I can't afford one just now, so it's not something I need to worry about just yet.

If I had the money, would I buy one?

The answer is no, not just yet.


At the moment I'm reading Knockemstiff. It's a thing of beauty, really, a cardboard cover with wrapped spine, it looks good, feels great and smells fantastic. In it I have bookmarks that were made by my daughters (anxious to avoid favouritism), one of hearts one of footballs. I like to carry it around and I like opening the pages. There are aesthetic reasons behind this pleasure.

I like bookshops. They're about the only shops I can browse in. Big stores, junk-shops, charity stalls, boot-sales, they're all the same to me.

I also like online shopping - you can find everything and take the lowest price. Best of all is the thud on the floor when the post arrives.

It's a pleasure to buy books, to hunt them down and devour them. Brings out the caveman in me like the booze and the pills.

E-readers. I'll get one, you'll see. I'll probably tell you about it. For now, though, I still can't get over the price barrier.

£250. That's twenty hard-backs. Forty new paperbacks from the shop, fifty from Amazon and E-Bay. One-hundred and twenty five from charity shops. Two hundred from boot sales.

All good reasons for holding fire for now.

So Santa, if you're awake, technology for on the move reading Xmas 2012, please. Promise I'll be good.


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