Thursday, 1 December 2011

Mikey Goes on a Rant and Gets Salty With The Language.

It has now been a year since I bought my Kindle, so I thought I would take stock of my reading experience with it thus far.

I have downloaded 33 books. Which is not too shabby. How many have I read? Any guesses?


Yup, you up the back, that wasn’t a typo. 3.

There are about 4 or 5 others that I have read too halfway, some I looked at briefly and some that have never been opened.

How does that compare with the hard copies of books I’ve bought, borrowed from my local library and books I’ve been given to review? I haven’t noted the empirical data – so sue me – but I would guesstimate that I read anything from 1 to 3 books per week. So, a light approximate would be that in the time I have read 3 e-books, I’ve read anything from 100 - 200 paper books.

It’s not that the books on my Kindle are crap. They’re not. 

I’m thinking that there are two things at play here.

#thing 1 – see me, I love the feel of a paper book.

#thing 2 – when I’ve paid anything from £3 to 0.99p for an e-book I feel less inclined to follow up my purchase. There is little perceived value there so I don’t bother reading it once the initial impulse has flown. (So how does that tie up with the fact that you get a lot of free paper books, bozo?)

#thing 3 – so, there’s more than 2 things, quit moaning – ahem, thing 3 – It mostly doesn’t even occur to me to look out my Kindle and read from it. I forget where I’ve put it most of the time.

Is it just me? We’re all reading e-books aren’t we? Am I so out of step with the rest of the reading world?

Bloggers and journalists out there often use the changes in the music industry to highlight the eventual death of the book. The techies among them doing it with a certain degree of glee, it has to be said. It has been reported so often that the download has killed off the CD that it has almost become fact. And repeated till Pinocchio’s beak circumvents the globe. So I thought I would check it out.

I read some research carried out by the UK music industry – not sure what the situation is in the US – but here are the figures for 2010...

Sales of digital single tracks represented 98.0% of overall singles sales, with CD singles only accounting for 1.9m sales (down on last year’s total of 2.5m).

So that seems to bear out what “everyone” is saying, right? But is that the whole picture? Nope.

98.5 million CD albums were sold against a figure of 21 million digital albums.

So, it seems for a single track we’re loving a download, but for an album the CD still rules the roost.

Side-bar, your honour - Interestingly, this allows me to draw a correlation between novels and short stories. It seems that the e-book is allowing the short story to flourish. After all, the e-reader is the perfect tool to read a short story on the to-and-from from work etc.

The one movement in the music industry that worries me is the overall downward trend of sales caused by the illegal download. Let’s hope the book peeps get to keep control of that particular nastiness. It has been calculated that the total number of people in the UK illegally downloading music on a regular basis is 7.7m.  It is likely to be even larger given other methods by which music can be illegally obtained, such as e-mail, instant messaging and newsgroups.

That’s a concern, innit? If it happened to that degree in the book world it would be nothing short of disastrous.

And what is it about people who think that its fair game to obtain creative content for free? They wouldn’t dream of popping into Tesco and knicking a CD/ book/ movie or fresh fruit and veg off the shelves, so why is it ok to steal digital content?

Oh, don’t get me started. On one blog I visited the other day; where they were debating the price and therefore the perceived value of ebooks, one numpty came on to leave a message saying, why pay when you can get it for free?

Because someone has spilt their life blood on to the page, they’ve studied their craft, they’ve put in hour upon hour upon hour, day after month after year to try and entertain you, you asshole. That’s why. Music, literature, the arts – it all enriches our lives - this stuff doesn’t and shouldn’t come free – or the well will eventually run dry. And what a horrible world that would be.

Eeesh, I’m going to have to go and lie down or have a camomile tea or SOMETHIN’.

Fuckin’ free.

Fuckin’ A-hole.


  1. I'm going the opposite way. I got my kindle last Crimbo and have read many more books on it than I have paper ones this year. I have been sent quite a few ebooks to review which has added to the number but I've picked up plenty of bargains from authors I wouldn't go near in a traditional bookshop. You mention the short story uprising, I agree 100%. I had hardly read any short stories but this year I have enjoyed a number of them, this is again due to being sent some and picking up some bargains. I also find I read quicker on kindle. Is it the end of paper books? Of course not and I do miss the feel of them and looking at nice covers but the kindle has totally enriched my reading experience.

  2. Good man, Ricky. More reading is the thing - whatever the books vs ebooks people moan about.

    Sara - eh?

  3. Pirates suck - whether those of books or music.
    Since buying my iPad (on version #2 already and can't wait for #3) I haven't purchased one physical book. But, I have read a TON more books! I've downloaded some big names that were under ten bucks, but many have been under five. (And very glad that my publisher priced mine at $2.99 - probably helped it hit the best seller list in September.)
    And I've only purchased two physical CD's in the past three years. All others were purchased from iTunes.
    Guess I'm a total convert.

  4. I'm sorry to say I agree with you on nearly every point, Michael. The one difference is that I've actually used my Kindle more than you have and I quite like it. But it really is a totally different reading experience and, yes, mine's packed with books I've bought but, in the end, probably won't read.

  5. Alex - I SO want an ipad.

    Bill - get an ipad. Hate it. And then donate it to a good cause. i.e. me!

  6. that's very interesting, I guess, due to their lower price, Kindle books are easier to buy in bigger number.
    I'm one of those who will use it (not any time soon since due to my job I don't have time to read other books, and we don't have e-books in my country) but it will never have that warm feeling of belonging and of having something valuable as the real books.

  7. Absolutely, Dez. I for one hope the actual book never goes out of fashion. I will be bereft.

  8. i think my boys are giving me a kindle. they both have ipads and read everything on them. i still love reading the newspaper every day. i wonder, is it easier to do research on a kindle?

  9. Wouldn't think so, Thea. Mind you, I barely use mine so I'm not the right person to ask.