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.
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!