The other day I caught the tail end of a programme on the radio, possibly about electronic gadgets as they went on a little about e-books among other things. Some small bookshops in the USA have, according to this programme, been persuaded by Amazon to sell Kindles alongside their usual stock of conventional books. In the UK large bookshops like Waterstone’s have Kindles on sale but as a rule small bookshops don’t do so. They have a hard enough time keeping going as it is without contributing to their own demise by selling e-books as well. That was partly the conclusion of the radio item as well.
I have a Kindle. In fact, we are a two Kindle family. It’s the only way we can transport all the books we want to read, while travelling on a 10k luggage allowance. And besides, we are seriously running out of space to store any more books so I am trying hard not to buy more of the paper variety. It’s very hard though. And I like to have books around. A house without books on shelves looks odd to me.
The radio presenters were of the same opinion. (How odd, to find myself so much in agreement with media pundits.) One of them commented that when you see pictures of houses and their oh-so-beautiful interiors in style magazines these days they rarely seem to feature shelves full of books. They often have large tomes on tables, the popular coffee table books that the presenters wondered if anyone ever opens, but it’s as if they are placed there to look lovely, rather like a tastefully placed frilly cushion toning in with the sofa and curtains. Books on shelves, however, are supposedly no longer the thing.
And then I found this picture in today’s Observer magazine. This was in a feature about the home of a certain Amanda Brooks, a fashion guru I’ve never heard of. Mind you, I don’t think I could name another fashion guru so that’s not really surprising. Maybe all the books on her shelves are about fashion but at least the books are there, on show.
As for us, we seem to have book all over the house. There’s even a study full of chess books. And both chess books and other kinds of books have overflowed into piles in the attic bedroom. Sometimes it’s a major battle to find the book you remember you possess and what to re-read but don’t remember where it’s stored. The occasional reorganisations of the shelves, putting books into alphabetical order by author, rarely last very long. And then publishers will keep on sending Phil chess books to review: free books but still books that need storing somewhere.
No doubt there will be even more if chess takes a popularity leap with the success of Magnus Carlsen, the glamorous new world champion. According to one source of information, “Magnus Carlsen has everything you might expect of a superstar athlete: a modeling contract, endorsement deals, a dedicated female fan club, a growing bank balance and millions of fans watching his every move.” Masses of people followed the matches on internet, including about one fifth of the population of his native Norway. I wonder if a similar proportion of the population of the UK would have followed the progress of a British contender! Maybe, if s/he had the sponsorship deals that young Magnus has.
Meanwhile, I still have this book storage problem. And I contribute to it, of course. After all, I’ve just been through the review section of the Sunday paper making note of the “good reads” recommended by a host of writers. What can I do? Wait until they’re available as e-books?