Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Special K

My first sally into the e-book world was with a Sony e-book. A bit clunky to use but it did the trick, sort of. But after battery issues I returned it to a disgruntled retailer and didn’t bother with a replacement. I was surprised to learn that e-versions cost more, back then, than paper considerably more in some cases. But Amazon was working on it. Stephen Fry, famously, had a Kindle, but the software didn’t yet work in Europe and the UK and I had to wait a couple of years.

My first Kindle was a marvel – old fashioned, a bit 1990s in functionality and navigation - but wow, you could read it in daylight. Back then I travelled a good deal more than  have in the last few years and I began, as I imagine most do, trawling through the catalogues of cheap-as-chips, out-of-copyright classics. I eventually updated to the one with the backlight and when I accidentally broke the screen, replaced the device without hesitation.

That final version – I was never tempted by the gaudy ‘fire’ versions - now sits, uncharged on my desk. It has an accusatory posture; please use me, it seems to say. But why would I use it at my desk – I have a bigger, better, brighter and hugely more versatile screen right here in front of me. And I like to read when I go to bed, but despite the obvious convenience of an e-reader I have reverted to paper books, as I hear many have. My bedside cabinet holds a satisfying pile of books queued up ready and a visual reminder not to buy any more until I have ploughed through this year’s supply of wonderful words.

Many miles away, I have a storage unit, half-filled with books (half of all my possessions are books) I may never again have the room to display them, lovingly, on shelves, in a gloriously haphazard order which suits my internal filing system. Melvil Dewey, he of the Decimal Classification system, would have a fit. But as well as my horde I have also the memories of books gone by, many of which I have lost and replaced and many of which are probably gone forever. Storing a thousand books on a handheld device is just not the same as having a thousand books right there.

All the new ideas in politics, right here.

Now, I know you’re waiting for the politics and philosophy, so here it comes: Every now and then a bright new idea comes along – it usually calls itself the Labour Party – and it promises equality and aspiration and affluence for all. But then, when you try it out you find it doesn’t work quite as well as the hype suggests and the tried and trusted method, although more labour intensive, is ultimately far more satisfying. I will charge my Kindle when I go on holiday, but I won’t be persuaded to give up the real thing.


  1. With respect the Labour party does work but only as long as it can spend other peoples money and take out loans others have to repay. During its Rakes progress it tells everyone how wonderful it is and opens the door to all who wish to come and prosper at the expense of those who work and pay for everything. When the inevitable financial crash comes it retreats into opposition where it hides until people are prepared to believe it again and the coffers are again full of our money for it to squander. Labour has given us a run down over crowded country filled with many who don't share our values and regard us as inferiors only fit to be exploited. Thanks Mr Blair and Mr Brown enjoy your tax payer funded retirement.

  2. Hi, not happy you're not allowed on Twitter anymore. Is there anybody else you would surgest to following with similar views?

  3. I like books but also have a well-used Kindle Fire HD. I would have loved to have access to my Kindle back in my days of wandering the globe at the behest of Her Majesty's Flying Circus. Easily portable books, music and films at your fingertips and so much easier to deal with than the credit-bursting book clubs of yesteryear. Mind you, I also like the Fish-era Marillion AND the current line-up with Hogarth; damn my adaptability!