Friday, 28 May 2010

Coffee morning

Good morning everyone, yes I've remembered this week. To make up for last week as well as the usual teas and coffees there are fresh croissants and home made strawberry jam and freshly laid boiled eggs from our recently aquired hens. So put in your orders and I will put the kettle on.
Last week Caroline Smailes came up with an amazing idea for the launch of her latest novel, Like Bees to Honey. One of each of the 32 chapters was available to read in book format on 32 host bloggers sites worldwide. I know that many of the Racers were hosts. My immediate reaction was wow how amazing! I shall get to read the book even before it's been published I was really excited as I had been eagerly awaiting her next book. I have a laptop so I sat myself down comfortably and started reading. After the initial problem in realising that I had to click the open publishing button I soon got started. I have to say here that the subject matter is rather difficult for me but Caroline's use of language is phenomenal, however I realised after the first three or four chapters that I couldn't continue. Not because of the suject matter but because reading from my impersonal laptop was just not 'doing it' for me. I wanted no needed to be holding the book in my hands. I needed the intimacy of a book to get the feeling of every word, I wanted to 'feel' the words not see them on a screen. So I stopped reading and am now waiting to receive my copy.
Now I know that atleast some [how many?] of you have e-readers so my topic for today is what do you think of them. I understand their convenience but I cannot see how you can ever experience the same relationship with an e-reader, however sophisticated, as you can with a book. I think of the feelings I get when I look at my TBR pile, I like to stroke some of the beautiful covers, have you seen The Childrens Book by AS Byatt the cover is exquisite. The book is excellent as well. I shudder to think that 'real' books might one day be consigned to Museums where you can go and look but not touch. And what about the chance discoveries that are possible from browsing in Bookshops, browsing a list of titles just wouldn't do anything for me.
I hope I am not a luddite but I just can't imagine a world where books are only to be read on e-readers. Do you have the same feelings towards books as I do or is any format okay for you aslong as you get to read the book?
So let me know what you think and I'll go and get out some more egg cups and put the pan on to boil.


Annieye said...

I've got a Sony e-reader and I can't read for pleasure from it. What I find it useful for is to make notes - either on my own work or for analysing others'.

It fits in your handbag and it's not so conspicuous as getting out a laptop in a public place.

My daughter has it at the moment, and is reading one of my books on it.

L-Plate Author said...

I've got a Sony e-reader and I absolutely love it. I can read for pleasure on it. For me it will never take the place of traditional books. I too like the feel and holding the actual book. But the e-reader has its place in that I can take it anywhere with me and if I'm going on a long trip I buy a book especially, probably something that I wouldn't go out and buy if I was looking for a paperback.

Writing wise, like Annie, I upload my manuscripts onto it - it looks like a proper book! It's far easier to spot typos and believe me, I thought I'd checked my book umpteen times for errors and I found pages of the things on the e-reader, it's the grey screen.

And it's pink...

Ellie said...

I would secretly love an e-reader, and spent ages playing with one in Waterstone's a while ago. It would be really handy for me, because I read quite quickly, and like to have a range of things avaiable, which usually means when I go away my handbag is STUFFED with different books for each mood/state of tiredness.

The closest I have at the moment is my iPhone, but I LOVE that I can read books on it. It has meant that when there's only the slimmest possibility that I will have some reading time I don't have to take a book anymore - I've got things I can read on my phone. I'm currently reading 'Alice in Wonderland' on it, and it's great for snatched moments when you're waiting for someone to turn up but it wouldn't be good for a 'proper' reading session.

liz fenwick said...

Oooo...freshly laid boiled eggs - divine.

I'm okay with ereaders for certain things - DH has a sony and loves it for travel - it fits in a suit pocket. I'm waiting for next generation iPad - well like to think I am.

Ellie - I just took over ds1's defective iTouch (sound a bit wonky) but you have given me a brilliant idea to load a few books on there so I am never without reading material.


Leatherdykeuk said...

I don't have an e-reader but I'd love one. I find it difficult to read on a screen but now I've started e-publishing (my 'Leget's Despair' was released last week) it would be good to check it out. E-publishing is here to see, though I doubt they'll ever replace print.

Cathy said...

I do love the idea of an e-reader, and may yet get one, but I don't think it could ever replace proper books for me.It would be useful to carry around though.

When I was having problems with my eyes last summer I couldn't read anything on paper and the backlit screen of my laptop worked better, reading in small bursts, so there is a place for that too.An e-reader probably wouldn't have been bright enough for those few weeks.

Karen said...

It's funny you should mention it, because I recentlybought an e-reader, got all excited, downloaded a couple of books then ... sold it a couple of weeks later on ebay!

I realised pretty quickly I was never going to enjoy reading that way and would MUCH rather hold a book in my hands wherever I am.

I can see why people love them but they're not for me - in this area I shall remain a luddite :o)

Serendipity (Christine) said...

Yummy - boiled eggs - with soldiers please! I feel like I'm missing out here - I've never tried an e-reader or even looked at them properly! I do have trouble reading from screen so I supposed I have already dismissed it. I love knowing I have a paperback in my bag at all times - it's like a security blanket! :-)

Flowerpot said...

The idea doesnt appeal to me because a) I love to actually hold and read a book and b) I spend so much time staring at a screen that I don't want to read a book off one. But as I haven't actually tried I can't really say.

HelenMHunt said...

I agree with you that I need the actual book. And I think Caroline's book is a really good example of this, because it's a thing of beauty in itself, and I don't think you would get that to the same extent from reading it electronically.

Sony e-readers look lovely, but I suspect if I had one I would soon get bored like Karen did.

Debs said...

Those eggs look inviting.

I have to agree with you. Whilst I can see how useful an e-reader would be for travelling etc, I just can't imagine reading a book for pleasure on one.

Nope, I'm definitely a luddite when it comes to technology - still have a brick of a phone and no idea how to do more than the basics on it - so, it's books all the way for me.

CC Devine said...

Ooh fresh eggs. Yum!

Great post! I do not have an e-reader and prefer a proper book to handle when I'm on the tube or in bed.

Like Liz I fancy an iPad but will wait for the next generation and envisage it being convenient for working on my own writing when out and about without having to lug my laptop around. I may become converted on its uses but think that a traditional hard copy book will always be my preference.

Xuxana said...

Depends on how desperate I am to read a book. If I want to read it NOW, and I usually do, then I'll buy the novel online. Slower reads I keep as printed versions on my nightstand. I think publishing goes both ways (no sexual puns intended here). Ebooks and regular books both have their perks! Publishing is not a dying business. Ebooks are expanding it, they offer new ways to enjoy that book you really want :)

Chris Stovell said...

Sorry, out of it today - terrible migraine.

Lane said...

Any eggs left? Thanks.

I don't have an e-reader and have no yearning for one. I find it hard enough to read from the laptop screen. I can see they have their place, especially if you're out and about or if you travel but even then ... do they smell of book?:-)

Chris - my sympathies. Hope you feel better soon.

sheepish said...

Thanks for all the comments. It looks as if books are safe for now, but maybe we need to talk to the kids of today to see how they view e books. Hope you feel better soon Chris.

B said...

i read caroline's entire novel online, but need to reread as i zoomed through it really quick as i wasn't sure if it was still be there the next day and i wasn't sure when my really-real copy would turn up! (ironically the next day...!)

i can read online and enjoy a book, but i still will want a real physical copy of any book i love. but i don't want an e-reader.

Denise said...

Yum, can't remember the last time I had a boiled egg!

I'm still waiting for the screens on e-readers to improve to a level where I'd be happy to read on one. I spend all day looking at a screen, so it's going to have to be very easy on my eyes before I'll buy one.

I do love the idea of having several books with me on holiday, without using half my luggage allowance, and being able to look up things with a search function. I'm still not sure I can give up the feel of a book though. Although the floors of my house may yet persuade me that they can't hold any more books...

JJ Beattie said...

Sorry I'm late. Yesterday was a bank holiday in Thailand and I was busy all day.

I love gadgets and I'd love an e-reader. The main advantage, as lots of you have pointed out, is for convenience of not needing to take so many books away when I travel.

I saw an ipad recently and thought it much too large - I think there is or will be a smaller one - but the recently released version was huge.

Books, their feel and smell, will always be what I love.

Captain Black said...

Eggs for breakfast. Mmm, makes me look forward to Canada later this year...

I don't mind reading on-screen providing I have some control over contrast and font size/zoom. I don't have an e-reader but I've been reading Thaw on-screen, plus one of Annieye's novels. I suppose I'm lucky to have a 1600 x 900 pixel screen of 44 cm, which probably makes it easier. I wouldn't fancy reading all that on the small screen of a netbook.

Which do I prefer? Paper books. Definitely. They have excellent contrast and portability. No wires nor batteries. I see no reason why they can't complement each other, though. E-readers also mean you can carry hundreds of books with you, without having to have muscles like Arnie.

I'm probably not the first person to think of this but, aren't we missing something? Aren't there loads of things that authors could do with the e-media that can't be done with paper? Electronics allows us to write things (albeit with technical help in many cases) that are dynamic. Once words are on a paper page, they're static. What about things that can change as you read/interact? I don't mean a full-blown computer game, but more additions to traditional text. Here are some things that spring to mind:

* Alternative endings, or alternative other sections. The reader chooses options and only those choices are displayed. The next time they read the story, they can make different choices.

* Optional extras such as back-story or more detailed chapters. Some readers can opt for the extras while other may prefer to get straight to the action.

* Other configurable extras such as footnotes, research details, author's notes, "Easter eggs".

* Lots of extra graphics that would normally add printing costs. Think Tolkien and his Middle Earth maps, as an example.

This would mean that authors may need to adjust the way they write, but someone out there must be up for the challenge. Perhaps it's already been done. What do you think?

A very thought-provoking post, Sheepish. Worth two, so you're definitely forgiven for last week ;o)