Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Sunday, 26 February 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the e-Book

"I'm not much of a reader, but since we've had one of these ..."

This is not me talking, you will have guessed. It's the lady from the couple I got talking to while looking at the demo e-readers.

I'd reached a tipping point. As always with these things, it was an accumulation of forces which led me there. Recently, I heard from two friends who are going to be published electronically later this year (ec newman, and Kim Donovan's St Viper's School for Super Villains) and I need to be able to read them. I also remember a respected YA author answering a question at the Kids' Lit Fest last year. Of course he liked e-books: his house was full of paper ones, and the overspill in the garage was getting damp.

I don't have that impressive a library - each time I've moved on in my life I've taken only the books that meant most to me, leaving the rest behind - but our house is small and when the piles start growing on the landing you realise you have to do something. That something could of course be giving some away, and I weed fairly frequently, but I went through them a couple of weeks ago and managed to find two I was prepared to part with. I use my local library extensively, but some of the books I want are not available without expensive inter-library loan fees. If I got an e-reader I could buy more without adding to the piles; I could even make space by replacing some battered classics with free downloads.

Enough worthy reasons to give myself permission to start browsing scrummy on-line bookstores full of inviting titles, and playing with tablets and e-readers... it's a toy! I want one!

Back to the lady in the shop. The really interesting thing about that couple - besides the fact that they had been turned from non-readers into readers - was that they already had an e-reader, but one was not enough. They were shopping for another, fancier one so they could both read at the same time and stop fighting over the one they already had.

Video didn't stop people going to the cinema. I have no statistics to prove this, but my sense is that it gave the film industry a boost, allowing people to develop their taste for movies. I've had my first personal experience of how e-publishing may do the same for our appetite for reading.

      Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
      Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not ...

Sorry. Could never resist a bit of Caliban.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Time for a Change of Portal

The snow gives me an excuse to put a new image at the head of my blog. It's cheating a bit because it was taken last year, but there is snow here on the street outside. It was taken in Somerset, near Priddy, and if you look closely you can see sleigh tracks on the path.

I collect what I call "portal pictures": images which seem to lead from one world to another. It's a bit hard to get away from wardrobes and lamp posts with ones like the snow picture, but here's another. Where do you imagine it might lead?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Commercial or Literary?

This one's been known to get my unmentionables in a twist before now. I end up getting all hot and bothered about 'Why can't a book be popular and well written?'; and 'If literary means valued, how can you judge your own work as such?' Or for that matter 'Why would anyone set out to write something that isn't literary?' But calm down - an excellent post here from bigglasscases puts the argument in a useful practical frame.

i.e., for every person like me protesting (again) that Shakespeare was commercial and literary, there's a hardworking agent out there trying to place books who finds it helpful to have a handle on where they might fit.

Sarah LaPolla also has a better shot at defining the difference between literary and commercial fiction than any I've come across before, with a nice analogy to catwalk vs high street fashion; and some advice for debut authors pitching their books.

So the question is, where do you see your work?

For my own part, Timehikers is (I hope) definitely commercial. Not so sure about Better than Stars or Water: a suggestion that it's a problem I need to sort out, maybe?