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Comment from the book world in April 2011

April 2011

'Viva e-books'

18 April 2011

'I love the entire concept of e-books. As a child growing up in rural Ireland in the 1980s, I had very limited access to books. It was hard to know what was happening in the world of children's literature, and harder still to get access to new, exciting novels. The internet has changed all that. Now it's possible for readers anywhere in the world to have instant access to any book that grabs their interest...

From a writer's point of view, we all start out as readers. If we have access to more books when we're growing and maturing, we will be able to draw ideas from a broader palette, hopefully resulting in a fresh raft of genre-blending stories.

From a publisher's point of view, as e-books take over, they will be able to release books more swiftly - no more long waits while they typeset! Also, they can take more chances and publish less obviously mainstream novels. Since there won't be all the print costs involved, they can push out more books and promote novels that aren't just standard crowdpleasers.

We're at the start of a revolution, and over the coming years e-readers will evolve and technical wizardry will take e-books into every home in the world. It's going to make reading more popular than ever, placing books more firmly in the camp of mass entertainment, along with movies, music and video games, which is where they have always deserved to be.

A lot of so-called reluctant readers approach books with caution, because they mistakenly see them as primarily an educational tool. Now that books are available digitally, to be downloaded along with their favourite games, songs, comics and movie clips, people will realise that writers like me are, more than anything else, trying to excite, entertain and enthuse them. And I think that will bring droves of new readers flocking to our work...

We're in the early stages of a whole new era. The last time something this important happened was when Gutenberg introduced modern book printing to the world. That revolution helped books spread to more corners of the planet than ever before. This revolution will take them even further, faster, and I'm absolutely thrilled to climb on board and be a part of it. Viva e-books! Viva The Word!!'

Darren Shan, in Futurebook

Darren Shan's blog

'Pay a fair price, e-whingers'

11 April 2011

'In tough times for everyone, it rather sticks in the craw to have to defend higher prices. But with e-books, the principle is plain. At long last, Amazon seems to have halted the race to the bottom on titles for its Kindle reader. After months during which charges for e-book bestsellers often plunged to sub-magazine levels, the digital giant has agreed on the "agency model" with Hachette, HarperCollins and Penguin. The publishers will set the price, and the retailer will keep to it. Similar deals will no doubt follow.

Cue a blizzard of complaints on Amazon forums about the injustice of having to pay more than few pennies for a work that enshrines the skills of authors, researchers, editors and (even digitally) designers. Talent and experience should cost a just amount of money in a commercial marketplace. Professionals deserve a fair reward. This whingeing, petty, adolescent sense of entitlement to culture and entertainment for free has almost proved the death of recorded music. It must not happen with books.'

Boyd Tonkin, Literary Editor, in the Independent

'Our relationship with books'

4 April 2011

'"Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book... in private, unsupervised, unspied-on, alone. It isn't like a lecture; it's like a conversation. There's a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our own limitations too, our own experience of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter.

And we are active about the process. We are in charge of time... we're not anchored to a piece of unwieldy technology or required to be present in a particular building with several hundred people. We can read in bed, or at the bus stop or (as I used to do when I was younger and more agile, up a tree).

We can skim or we can read it slowly; we can read every word or we can skip long passages... we can look at the last page first or decide to wait for it...we can assent or we can disagree.

So our relationship with books is a profoundly, intensely, essentially democratic one... It's dynamic. It changes and develops as our understanding grows, as our experience of reading - and of life itself - increases..."

I'm tempted to quote the entire piece but you can find it for yourself on the internet. It's called The War on Words. And if you read it, notice the wonderful language in which it's written and compare it with the brief extract I read earlier. If we are to debate literacy, the quality of the language we use has to matter.'

Anthony Horowitz quoting Philip Pullman