Saturday, March 12, 2011

Literary Pursuits

I'm watching a debate on TVNZ 7 at the moment about New Zealand books.

I can't actually think of a book by a New Zealand author that I place above others. I have loads of books that I love. Yes - love.

Things like:
  • "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman - which explores the idea of gods and how they come about and what they demand of us.
  • "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens  - a template for all modern drama (so says I).
  • The really fun "The Hollow Chocolate Bunny's of the Apocalypse" by Robert Rankin.
  • "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
  • "Mother Night" by Kurt Vonnegut.
  • "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk - without which we wouldn't have had the amazingly thought provoking movie.
  • Just about everything by Jasper Fforde. I don't think I've come across a single book of his which I haven't loved.
And these are just the ones which I tend to read again every so often.

Anyway, books are something that I read quite often so I figured it might be cool to do book reviews on this blog.

The books above get a rating of "Awesome" from me. At some stage I may even elaborate on them. Apart from Charles Dickens (not because I've not liked any of his other books but because I haven't read any others), that list pretty much describes my favourite authours. J.K. Rowling probably belongs there though I was horribly disappointed by the last of the Harry Potter series. JRR Tolkien also probably belongs there though it was only one series. I was a little gutted during the second movie based on the books when the ents were horribly hasty.

Anyway, Baillie and I were talking about the trend of e-books. This came about after talking about tablet devices and then ebook readers.

Ebook readers just aren't making huge waves, especially not in New Zealand. Off the shelf I can only think of 2 readers you can get. The Kobo and the Reader(TM). And with Whitcoulls/Borders possibly going out of business, the Kobo might not be avaliable for long.

Ebooks make quite a bit of sense to publishers. You don't have to fork out for paper and printing costs. It's a cost per book cost that just disappears. But if no one has the media in order to display it, then it's never going to happen. It's even worse when you factor in the love for books - which is a little different from the love of reading.

In one, you derive joy from just reading. The other, you derive joy also from the tactile of feeling the pages beneath your fingers - and also from browsing through other people's book shelves. I don't know about you but flicking through an ebook reader just doesn't really appeal to me.

Anyway, there are 2 ways for publishing companies to promote the use of ebook readers.
  1. Participate in a programme that gives authors more commission from their books (and market the fact).
  2. Offer a download code for the book you've just purchased (They would have to be DRM free to create a sense of value added).
Of course, this doesn't sort out the initial problem of there being very few ebook readers in New Zealand.


  1. Well this is MY subject.... deriving joy from reading and deriving joy from the tactile feeling of pages beneath your fingers. In fact, it is one of my points of difference with educators who want to make statements or produce research about children and reading. I want to know they derive joy from reading themselves before I take too much notice of what they have to say.

    I have a further qualification for deriving joy.... being prepared to read the night through to complete a book and then have a shower and go to work for the day. I sorta think that if you've never done that, then you are not a 'real' reader!

    So, as a real reader, I was not sure how the iPad experience would go. My first book in I was hooked. I have every reader on it you can name; Nook, Kindle, iBook, Borders etc etc and love the way I can buy books at a click (and know the author is getting money - which they don't when I use the public library) and start reading almost instantly. I can read anywhere/anytime/anyplace on it - though I was a little cautious ON the beach over the Summer.

    I read my first paper book this week gone in months and surprised myself by being frustrated with the experience. Couldn't adjust the lighting nor the font size. Couldn't annotate or bookmark easily etc etc.

    I think Monks probably had quite a struggle shifting when the printing press came along too....

  2. There's still no good reason for an iPad.

    In terms of an "e-book reader", an iPad is a pale imitation of a device that seeks to avoid the strain on eyes.

    In moral terms, I still think that the use of an iPad or iPhone can be seen as immoral. Buying devices that then tell you what you can and can't do on them and knowingly advocating such devices (by little more than being seen with them) panders to a marketing monster that needs to be stopped.