I freely admit I am an obsessive reader. You know, the sort that reads the label on a marmalade jar over breakfast, the sort that has to scan the back of other peoples newspapers on a bus. Oh yes, and I simply cannot sleep till I have read for at least half an hour and I never leave the house without a book in my bag - and can I say - jolly useful that has been, too - delayed trains, gruesome waits in the dental surgery or just a boring journey. So you can but imagine the weight of my bags when I go on holiday.
Last year I went to Argentina (lovely place - hideous plane journey) and I was going for three weeks. I had a separate suitcase just for the books. Then I had a bit of a panic attack and spread them over the two bags in case one got lost en route. Then I had another panic attack in case three books weren't enough for the flight (how right I was.) So.... I can quite see the use of a Kindle. Have I got one? No. And I don't really know why....A friend of mine (Damian Barr) wrote an article not so long ago claiming 'No-one will ever fall in love with you in a coffee shop whilst you're reading a kindle' Or words to that effect. He's very good with words. And I think he's right. I love BOOKS. I love the jacket design, the fonts, the turning of the pages, the fact that if you have a favourite book that you re-read, it falls, quite by its own accord to the favourite chapter. I like second hand books that people scribble on (I once bought a Molly Keane book from a market and it had scribbled in the front - Do not forget eggs, gin and watercress and for God's sake call Maggie) Or that when you buy an ex-library book page 42 has been circled by someone to let themselves know that they've read it. I enjoy the rustle of paper and the smell of new ink. I quite like the gluey smell, too. I can live with the odd crumb or two that find their way into it, but I draw the line at a hair. Eeow.
But.... I heard someone rather high up on Amazon on Radio 4 the other day saying that for every 100 paperbacks that are sold in America, 150 e-books are sold. Crikey. But that's America, right? Enormous place America. Fewer bookshops per capita and all that. But still...... Maybe we should look at it this way. A Kindle for journeys would be useful, no doubt about it, but no-one's gonna fall in love with you whilst reading from it. Am I going to get one? Probably.