Words From The Abyss

I’m sure you have noticed that things have been a bit quiet round here on the review front recently, apologies for that and more reviews are in progress, but here’s the problem – ebooks, I now officially hate ebooks.

Let me explain. First of all I’m no Luddite, oh no! Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve owned pc’s since the days of DOS, Commodore 64’s, 3DO’s, Spectrums and Playstations, I had a first generation ipod and loved it, a first gen ipod touch and loved it even more, so when the Kindle came along I saw the convergence of my love of toys with my love of books as a good thing but I was wrong.

The Kindle is a lovely device if slightly grey. It has a battery that lasts for hours, a nice non reflective screen, adjustable fonts, even a keyboard of sorts, best of all you can download books anywhere…except they are not books are they.

Books are wonderfully tactile, gloriously smelly, beautiful looking things. The smell of a new book, the feel of the paper, the constant flicking through to see what page number you plan to reach tonight, the satisfaction of final closure, all are things that make books sing to my heart. I can gaze in awe at my bookshelves as they threaten to bend to breaking point with the weight of a gloriously heavy Tartarus book. I can see my reading pile teetering on the desk edge threatening to collapse, and I take great satisfaction on adding and extracting to the pile like some warped game of Jenga. Best of all for a reviewer is the thunp as a fresh copy arrives unbidden from some foreign land threatening riches and promising glories.hhh

In contrast ebooks are just there. As ephemeral as the Daddy Long Legs that passed through our bedroom last night a brief gangly flourish and then gone. The words might be the same but the quality of the experience is most certainly not. I just can’t curl up with my Kindle like I can with a “proper” book, I don’t love it like I love my “proper” books. I remember the excitement when I first got a Kindle. Look I can store five hundred books on this thing, (Why?). Look I can read outside (I always could). Look I can keep it in my pocket (I always could). I was so enthusiastic I changed my review rules to allow electronic review copies. All you poor publishers and writers could send me material and you did, and you still do. And then the postman would arrive with a new paperback and all those ebooks would be forgotten in a frenzy of envelope ripping and blurb reading.

So as of now my rules are changing. No more ebooks (unless it’s very, very special). Send me a paper copy and I guarantee a review, send me an ebook and it’s likely to end up languishing on my hard drive amidst the multitude. So I’m off now to read…a proper book, anyone want to buy a Kindle!



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8 responses to “Words From The Abyss

  1. I take your point, and I still love my physical books, but I find I forget when I’m reading I barely notice any more if it’s in ink or e-ink (or whatever Amazon call it!) That is, I don’t notice as long as the book is *good*. The tale’s the thing.

    (But then, like all self-published authors, I would say that wouldn’t I…)

  2. Colin

    I don’t blame authors and publishers for pushing ebooks, if it gets more folk reading that’s brilliant. I just find my reaction to ebooks is less emotional regardless of the content. I recently started to read A Dance With Dragons as an ebook but it was only when I switched to the stonking big hardcover that I started to really engage..maybe it’s just me.

  3. Pingback: A Book Reviewer declines Ebooks | THE HAWLER

  4. I’m heading in the other direction – review copies are pretty much the only print books I read now, comics aside. As long as there are interesting books only available for review in print form I’m not going to turn them down, but it’s not unusual for me to download the Kindle previews of them to read as much as I can of the book on there.

    • Colin

      Thanks for the comment Stephen

      As I’ve said in various places it’s clearly a personal preference thing so it’s no surprise that we might take different routes. I have just found the ebook experience a soulless one, yes the text is the same but the package is not, this could lead to me offering unfair judgement on ebooks, something which I don’t want to do.

      • I know what you mean – I have to watch out for something similar happening when reviewing print books. It tends to take me a lot longer to finish them – or at least it feels that way, because I’m so keen to get back to the Kindle – and so I have to be wary of unconsciously translating that into “this book seemed really slow”.

        I remember a few years ago being surprised at the reviews of Stephen King’s The Kingdom TV series, which all complained about how slow it was – I’d thought quite the opposite – but then realised I’d watched the whole thing over a single weekend…

      • Sorry, I meant Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital – The Kingdom was the original Danish version.

  5. Besides I can’t face going to Ikea for yet *another* bookcase… Now that’s a soulless experience!

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