Monday, January 14, 2013

Large Print

Even those who view eBooks and Kindles with suspicion, hostility and derision will, one day, come to see them as having an invaluable saving grace. Though this brave proclamation does very much depend on the vanity of the Kindle-hater in order for it to come to pass.

See, time was, many moons ago I worked in a nursing home for the elderly. It was without doubt or the word of a lie the happiest time of my life career-wise. Even the many sad departures of the inmates did little to dent my blind, arrogant comfort in my own youth and immortality. I was young and untouchable (sadly a rare condition in this day and age).

But one thing did give me a little wobble at the cellular spiritual level.

Large print books.

The home had its own collection which was augmented by a travelling library. Awful abridged Catherine Cookson-esque tomes with print the size of the shop sign outside Specsavers. Stories of days gone by, stories of balls, horses, steam boats, emigration to the Americas and the redemption of cross-class love during the futility of war. And Wooster-ish men with nicknames like Chippy or Tiddler.

One day, that little voice in my head used to say, you’ll be reading books like that. You won’t want to but you’ll have no choice but to ‘cos there’s no way they’ll have large print sci-fi or large print fantasy. All you’ll have is ladies in ball gowns and men in tweed jackets with shrapnel in their left leg called Rupert. The men are called Rupert, by the way, not the shrapnel.

And you won’t die of old age but of shame. There’ll be no way to hide it. The books are so big and the print so large everybody will know. Everybody will know that you are reading large print OAP “period” romance and quite probably re-reading the same sentence over and over again due to the onset of dementia. And that will be worse because it means the shame will be forever fresh and you’ll never ever get acclimatized to it, instead you will discover it anew each time you re-read that single sentence. Over and over again. God, this print is a bit big. And who the hell is Tiddler? Oh God. Please tell me I’m not... oh God, I am... I am... I... ooh this looks an interesting book. I may as well give it a go to relieve the boredom. Here we go, chapter one, page one. Tiddler? That’s a funny name for a hero... Is it a kid’s book?

And so on.

Enter Kindle and its ilk stage right.

You can now set the text size to positively cinematic and only you need to know. You can read whatever you want, however you want. Pot boilers, Pentecostal treaties or porn. Nobody can tell what the hell you’re reading and you look cool. You’re own little private reading world. And best of all Kindle always knows which page you’re on so even if you don’t know that you’ve already read page 43 Kindle does which gives you some hope of eventually getting to the end before you, er, get to the end.

Marvellous.

And sales of Catherine Cookson may even very well go up as the younger generation decides to bite the bullet early without fear of discovery and ridicule...

It’s a win-win situation.

Sorry. I said: it’s a win-win situation!

20 comments:

Livi TeePot said...

Lol, you put forward a good case!
I have the Kindle app on my phone and am yet to be fully converted, I get fed up of the books on it for some reason whereas because of the physical draw of real books I can finish those! Maybe time will change me!

Hannah Denski said...

You're back!? Yay!

And yay to Kindles, iPods and tablets of any sort - because beside the great choice of print sizes... you no longer need to worry about book storage or books that fall to pieces after one read in the sun... Oh, am I happy to find you here!x

Steve said...

Hannah: it's almost like I never went away...! I think the only books that'll disappear because of Kindles et al are large print books as the techno generation become the oldies and take their entire book collections to the grave (or at least to the nursing home of their choice).

Trish Burgess said...

I still can't get used to reading books on a tablet. Just love flicking pages, shoving odd bits of paper in as bookmarks, going back a few pages knowing someone's name was half way down on the left hand page.
I can see how Kindles would be fantastic for people needing bigger print. My dad had an e-reader in his last couple of years because he couldn't turn pages, so it was a boon for him.

I met Catherine Cookson once and my mum played her mother in a film documentary many years ago. Just thought I'd add that in.

Steve said...

Trish: you are so well connected Kevin Bacon must be your brother. ;-)

As for Kindle - get yourself a nice leather gatefold protective cover for it and you have all the benefits of a real book coupled with all the benefits of your entire book collection in your handbag.

Gorilla Bananas said...

You're quite right about Kindle, but I hope you'll still end up reading stories of balls. It would be a fitting way of rounding things off.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: just a pity I can't stand cricket.

Kelloggs Ville said...

Nope! Daughter does kindle, I simply cannot. I have tried Steve, honest I have but it just doesn't do it for me. I need it to be raw, I need it to be sharp edged, I need to feel the sensuous page flick as it trips over my fingers. I need to feel it Steve, feel it. So far the Pince-nez have served me well but I expect to be taping binoculars to my head so I can continue to feel it. (I grew up on the Jane Fonda Workout!)

John Gray said...

I would liKE a larger IPAD screen
How sad is that!
( I can't quite get the hang of widening the text!)

Steve said...

Kelloggs Ville: wow. That quite turned me on. I need to upload it to my Kindle so I can carry it about my person forever!

John: wouldn't a superhuge widescreen iPad screen defeat the point?

Nana Go-Go said...

I'm with Trish on the 'real books' thing. I've been going to the library since I was at primary school and enrolled my boys as soon as they could turn the pages of their little books by themselves. I had great pleasure in 'signing-up' my Grandaughter when she was about 2 and she absolutely loves going to the library and choosing her books. Although the last time we went, she picked out a book on Coy Carp from the 'Hobbies' section just because she liked the pics of the fish! The point is, we must all do what we can to keep these places open and alive - they're such a great asset to any community. Also, I just happened to hear on the radio (Scotland) today that the sales of digital reading devices have gone down over the past year. That can only be a good sign.

Steve said...

Nana Go-Go: you'll be sorry when you're stuck reading the large print version of Fifty Shades of Grey...!

The bike shed said...

I also like the inbuilt dictionary so I can look words up qickly and in context.

Steve said...

The Bike Shed: I didn't even know it had one of those!

The Sagittarian said...

As soon as I work out how to enlrage the print on your blog post I will read it with Gusto. Rupert's mate.

Löst Jimmy said...

I like Kindle and iBooks but last Spring, I took to going to the local library every fortnight I like that too.

Steve said...

Amanda: Tiddler? Is that you?

Löst Jimmy: I'm sure the world will always be big enough for both.

the fly in the web said...

I bought a Kindle...and the so and so thing doesn't work.....
But, as always, you provide a positive spin on this...I am spared the horrors of Catherine Cookson

Steve said...

The fly in the web: see, even electronic clouds have silver linings.

Steve said...

Livi: only just found your comment - for some reason Blogger had it down as spam!