Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I do like books

Book culture is quite interesting. In the US you can now get a cheaper Kindle if you don't mind having special offer adverts on the home page and screensavers. Since you can't customise the home page and screensavers anyway, so it's not like you can make them all nice like you want them, I don't think I'd mind having adverts for Visa instead. The crucial thing is that your reading is not interrupted.

I would guess that I now read about a third of my books on the kindle. I spend too much money on books, especially for someone with very little income, but not much of that spending goes to authors or publishers. A lot of what I read is old material, things I've seen recommended on blogs or want to read because I'm interested in their subject matter, and I can usually get hold of these for something between three and five pounds secondhand including postage. If there is a kindle edition available for a similar price I prefer that; but basically, there isn't. I'm hoping that publishers will catch up a bit with the idea of availability of the backlist, because I'd much rather that a proportion of the money I pay for a book goes to the publisher and author rather than a secondhand book seller. I'm currently reading Katie Whitaker's biography of Margaret Cavendish, Mad Madge, and enjoying it very much. I spent three pounds ninety-seven pence on it, including postage. If there were an ebook version available then Vintage, who presumably took the initial risk of paying an advance for the book and publishing it, and Whitaker, who actually wrote the thing, could continue to get a little trickle of income from its sale long after the actual physical copies have gone off to be remaindered or whatever. The book is out of print, but it was actually only published in 2004, which doesn't seem so very long ago to me.


  1. On a side issue, how do you rate LibraryThing? Is it possible to export the information, should there be a reason to do so? I keep thinking I ought to catalogue my books, though I'm daunted by the scale of the task.

  2. I started a reply to this but then realised it was going to be quite long, so I'm going to reply in a separate post. The short answer is: I give LibraryThing four stars, and I think I'm going to upgrade to lifetime membership. Long answer to follow, probably this evening!