Saturday, September 15, 2012

E.Books Bookshops and Authors

The number of bookshops in Wimbledon has halved in the past couple of years. Books etc was taken over by an USA company which I think  then went bust and the Books etc store in SW19 is now a modern Dixons aka Currys. The cheap and cheerful bookshop in the local 'Centre Court' shopping mall also closed some moons ago leaving one enthusiast bookshop in Wimbledon Village and  the sadly now  rarely crowded Waterstones in the town centre. I hope both  those remaining book sellers thrive.

Meanwhile I have an Amazon Kindle. Unfortunately this is far easier to manage on the daily District Line commute than a traditional book. Not only is it lighter and easier to slip into and out of a briefcase but also when one book is finished, another is simply commenced by  looking at its saved  books list and selecting one by the press of a key. Another huge attraction so far as I am concerned is the arrangement Amazon has of advertising each day a book to download at the almost give away price of 99p.

Obviously the 99p ebook is not always in line with my reading preferences and anyway one does not buy books even digitally more than every now and again but what is a great attraction of this arrangement is the ability to experiment inexpensively  with literature which might otherwise pass one by. For example I am currently reading  on my District Line commute via the Kindle, Out of It by Selma Dabbagh  which I started at Putney Bridge a few days back  having then  just finished the interesting USA read,  Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. I doubt that I would have bought either of those novels at a traditional bookshop  yet both proved absorbing reads. The American novel  largely reflected the great  difficulties and unfairnesses that were more often encountered by  some  minority citizens of the USA a few years back  and I found  very interesting - its main character was a black American lawyer.

Out of It by Selma Dabbagh  took a little getting used to at first but for  a risk of only 99p that presented no problem. The ebook is is proving another very fascinating read not least because of the tiny  insight it gives to Islam, life in the Gaza Strip and environs in former Palestine. It is very doubtful that I would have either seen Out of It, in a traditional bookshop  or if I had, whether I would have more than glanced at it before moving on despite its traditional paperback price being only about £5 or so. Before ebooks arrived I think most of my book buying was of books that I already knew were likely to be good reads which knowledge was derived from having read other  books by the same author or recommendations.  The 99p ebook  is still a recommendation but buying on line in that ways is less risky than buying a strange, relatively expensive, traditional book  in a bookshop would have been.

Amazon and the like obviously have proper arrangements with authors yet I read with sympathy yesterday  a concern expressed by a book author ,about individuals seeking to download  (elsewhere) for free, her books as she needed the income from her work and such free downloads were jeopardising her livelihood. She challenged the freebie fan to meet with her to discuss the issue and indicated that she would then give him or her a free copy anyway.

On balance then for me: I like the convenience and ease of ebooks, would be disappointed if traditional booksellers all vanish as a consequence  of their success but protecting the rights of authors to be paid for their works  is essential whatever the medium for enjoying and appreciating them may be.

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