At Christmas, I succumbed to the suggestion of an e-reader as a gift.
If you’re not familiar with the idea of an e-reader, then I’ll fill you in. You remember back in the day when we used to go to the record shop and buy either a 12in piece of vinyl or a 5in shiny metal disc and then go home to listen to it? Yes? You’ll be aware, then, that about five years ago, the world and his dog started downloading music instead and rather than carrying a Discman around that jumped at all our favourite bits, we could store thousands of tracks on an mp3 player the size of a credit card.
In some ways, it’s an amazing concept. I get the songs I want, when I want them, can listen to them instantly, and don’t have to spend hours making mix tapes. On the other hand, it’s meant that the art of buying records is slowly dying, which is very sad indeed.
Back to e-readers. They’re the literary equivalent of an mp3 player. Somebody (probably somebody who liked to take a lot of books on holiday with them) came up with the concept of a device that looks like a very thin book, but has a screen on the front and can store hundreds of novels. You can also download newspapers and magazines – and even upload your own paperwork to read.
The thing that swung me in favour of e-readers was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I spent last summer trying to read it while I was commuting from meeting to meeting and ended up having to buy a bigger bag just so that I could fit it in. That’s the thing about books, you see – they smell great, they have an air of general awesomeness, but if you drop one on your face when you read in bed, then by golly do they hurt!
My cynicism about e-readers was the same as my cynicism about mp3 players. I now have them both and I love them both. I don’t know how I coped without them.
Last week saw World Book Day which, at first, I thought was something to do with atlases but, it seems, was about children all over the globe celebrating their favourite stories.
Facebook was clogged with pictures of youngsters dressed as Count Dracula, Robin Hood and Frodo Baggins – I even saw a pair walking down the street resembling Thing One and Thing Two from The Cat In The Hat.
So who would I have dressed as? Easy – the greatest literary character of the past 50 years – Severus Snape from Harry Potter. I certainly had the frown down to a T...