I'm forty pages into a battered copy of "Complicity" by Iain Banks. I picked this copy up for the princely sum of 90p at Barter Books last weekend. For the uninitiated, Barter Books is a grand old bookshop situated in a disused train station in Alnwick, Northumberland. It has the dubious pleasure of being the originator of the "keep calm and carry on" fad.
At the time that I bought it, I wasn't sure whether it was already in my swollen reading pile, but 90p wasn't a great loss if so. I could leave it in the book pile at my next hotel. (it was, and that's a sorry indictment of the state of my reading pile.)
This gnarled paperback has character. There's a faded price sticker on the back revealing a first-hand price in Australian Dollars. The book started its post-sale life on the other side of the world. Where else has it been? I take some small pleasure in planning the next step in its future.
To imagine this book with a long tail of readers having a free market value of 90p, or roughly the price of a posh chocolate bar, I'm struck by both wondering how publishers and writers like Mr Banks make a living (and yet they do) but also how the pricing of ebooks, completely lacking in this character I've written about and non-transferable, seems over inflated to the end user.
I've been struggling to short list a selection of books to take on holiday. Most of my friends have responded "buy a kindle", with a complete lack of sympathy for my predicament. I'm borrowing one which means I can finally find out whether I'll "take" to it. I'm concerned I'll not be able to get sucked into a story in the same way I can with a paper book. I certainly won't rely on just the kindle for my reading needs.
I don't want to prejudge my experiment too much but I suspect I won't be convinced. Where I can see technology supporting my reading is in addition to the paper book: particularly for non fiction, technical books, academic papers, more graphical-oriented things (photo books, graphic novels). I do have a small but growing collection of old, rare-in-print texts that I've only been able to source as PDFs. I think something like the Google Nexus 7 would do the job for these and fit into my life more readily than the kindle.