I downloaded the Kindle app to my iPad way back in November. But – like a child who has to wait for Santa to deliver a longed-for toy – I didn’t play with it until after Christmas.
My first e-book was ‘Trampling Snowdrops’, by Isle of Wight author, Wendy K. Harris. Wendy – a fellow member of ‘Wight Writers’ – has written four books in ‘the Undercliff’ series, set on the southernmost coast of the island. I thoroughly enjoyed the first three, which came out in paperback, and I knew she had decided to publish the fourth electronically. When I met her at the Dimbola Lodge ‘Afternoon of Conversation and Cakes’, (described in an earlier blog), I asked her for the details, so that I could download it using the Amazon voucher, which I won in a mini-saga competition in November. So, a couple of days after Christmas, I settled down for a jolly good read.
And I wasn’t disappointed. Like the earlier books in this series, (‘The Sorrow of Sisters’, ‘Blue Slipper Bay’, and ‘Rocken Edge’), ‘Trampling Snowdrops’ is a stand-alone novel. But there are crossover characters and references to events we’ve read about earlier. This latest book takes us back to the mid nineteen seventies, through a series of seamlessly managed flashbacks, skilfully woven into more current action. I was transported from the familiar landscape of St Lawrence and Ventnor, back to Morgan’s Hall, on the Welsh border – the idealistic 70’s commune, known to it’s inhabitants as ‘The Morg’ .
By the time I reached the closing sentence of ‘Trampling Snowdrops’ on New Year’s Eve, (we’re such party animals, my man and I!) I was hooked on my e-reader – it has so many advantages over a traditionally published book. With my failing eyesight I found the adjustable text-size invaluable. The fact that it is backlit means that I no longer have to strain my eyes deciphering words under the feeble glow of a low energy bulb, or try to adjust a reading lamp so that it doesn’t cast shadows on the page, or blind me.
In fact I no longer need external lighting at all. The Artist likes to play video games – preferably in the dark – and in the past I have taken myself off to a different room so that he can fully enjoy the experience. Now, while overcomes an on-line opponent or speeds around a virtual race-track, with his 7.2 surround-sound headphones on, I can stretch out on the sofa behind him and indulge my passion for reading.
So far I have come across only one disadvantage – you can’t use it in the bath. And a friend who also has an iPad tells me that you can’t use it outside either – which you can, apparently, with a Kindle. I’ll cross that bridge when it’s warm enough to read in the garden – but, if he’s right, I can always default to library books or magazines, praying that the wind doesn’t blow the pages over and make me lose my place too often. (But if Amazon would like me to test drive their new Kindle Fire, I’d be happy to give it a go!)
Over the past few days I have had a whale of a time, browsing through the choices available to me on-line; downloading samples from books that seem interesting but about which I’m not sure and deciding where to spend the remainder of my gift-certificate balance. During the twelve days of Christmas, Amazon were running special offers and, for a few pounds and in as many seconds, I downloaded several books by authors whose work I admire, took advantage of one or two completely free offers and – after reading abut ‘The Eclectic Reading Challenge 2012’ on Pete Denton’s blog (petedenton.wordpress.com) – have chose a couple of others that I would not normally pick.
In ‘Conversation and Cakes’ I reported on the advantages of e-publishing for writers. And even with my limited experience, I can state that it provides an excellent experience for readers too. Which is convenient – and exciting. The people in the know at Amazon clearly agree with me – they are now commissioning and publishing books specifically for this burgeoning market.
Which has to be good news for us all!