To Kindle or not to Kindle

There’s a low-key debate going on in the press about the death of the book [journalists just love working up a sensational story from nothing; remember how facebook was once seen to be the end of all social life, signalling the rise of the lonely nerd who would only ever know cyber-friendship]. The sad demise of the book is also a conversation I’m having with individuals in classrooms and libraries, and across my dinner table.

Is the book OVER?

Is that it for the printed page?

Are bookshops so yesterday?

Am I, by owning a Kindle, responsible for the potential closure of Waterstone’s?

I remember being one of those ‘I love real print, the smell of new books, the heft of them, the sight of them all gathered together like friends next to the bed’. And I still feel all those things when I hold a book and enjoy its physicality, before I start my new reading journey.

But here my philandering nature comes to the fore. I also love my Kindle, with an immoderate passion. It delivers one of my daily newspapers to me in the middle of the night. It is full of poetry, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, loads of crime, and, joy of joys, all the rubbishy books I love but might feel embarrassed about being seen reading on the train.

This week I’ve read a paper back crime novel by Robert B. Parker, a Jill Mansell novel on my Kindle, and delicious hardback copies of Alan Hollighurst’s latest ‘The Stranger’s Child, and John Sutherlands magisterial and fabulously unsnobby Live of the Novelists [both for events I’m hosting at the Ilkley Literature Festival over the next few weeks] and loads of poetry in the loo. I’m also looking forward to reading the latest Julie Myerson, and Joe Simpson’s foray into fiction, both in hardback. But I NOW have that reassuring feeling, known to all addicted readers, that I will never run out of things to read, and that when I go on holiday I can have a dozen new things to read, in a wonderfully compact, light casing of charcoal plastic….

My feeling is that the book isn’t dead, it’s just undergoing a bit of shape-shifting. And for those who think that Kindles don’t allow you to browse and make impulse buys, you just need to look at my bank statement which is a forest of small amounts payable to Amazon. The publisher and writers win, Amazon of course wins, but then so do I.

The Future of the Book - a debate
Mon, 10 October, 19:30 – 20:30
Quaker Meeting House 10 St James Street, Sheffield, S1 2EW (map)
Off The Shelf Festival Office
Tel: 0114 273 4716
[email protected]

With advances in smart new technology such as the eBook and Kindle does the good old printed book have a future? Noel Williams from Sheffield Hallam University and Lesley Gunter from Sheffield Libraries will be arguing the case for new technology, whilst Richard Welsh from Sheffield’s children’s book shop ‘Rhyme and Reason’ and novelist Rachel Genn show their support for the book. Hosted by West Yorkshire based poet James Nash join what promises to be a lively and engaging debate and have your say on this topical issue.

The bendy blog

You wait six months for a blog, and then two come at once!! In fact it’s not two. but one long bendy one.

There are two things for me that are like breathing: reading and writing. These give me more pleasure than practically anything else… and the truth is that I am very privileged that my professional life and personal life intersect so strongly here. Here are two events that I am lucky to be part of, which demonstrate this.

Crime Scene Saturday

24 September 2011
John Willie Sams Centre, Dudley, North Tyneside

James Nash
On September 24th I am privileged to be hosting a day in North Tyneside called Crime Scene Saturday, where a bunch of highly talented Macmillan crime writers [amongst them the charming Ann Cleeves whose Vera Stanhope character is now known to many after the recent TV series set in the North East]. This gives crime readers a chance to meet favourite authors and get to know new ones, and a chance for the writers to emerge blinking into the bright light, away from their computers, and meet their readers. A whole day talking crime, and for me just an hour away from West Yorkshire on the train to Newcastle, to spend a day of utter bliss.

If you have any questions about the day please contact either:
Joanna Parker [email protected]
(0191) 643 5835
Ruth Walton
[email protected]
(0191) 643 2075

Shared Dreams

30th September 2011 at 7.30pm
Heart, Bennett Road, Headingley Leeds 6, West Yorkshire

Jessica Egbuna
I’m a long term resident of Headingley. And when you regularly perform and host literary events up and down the country, it is delightful to be sharing some of your writing on home ground, as a fund-raiser for Heart, which is the very wonderful Arts and Business and Community centre in the centre of Headingley.

As support I have friend, and singer Jessica Egbuna, accompanying herself on guitar, and making some of her special musical magic.

The lovely café will be open for simply delicious food and drinks before and during the performances. And you don’t need to book for food or for the event.

I’m hoping for an evening of shared dreams and laughter.