I’m a Kindle and, by implication, Amazon fan. My Amazon Wish List is like my very own library; one which is as wide-ranging as I want to make it. It can and does include pieces of whimsy and fantasy, literary reads, and matters for serious research. The latter saved for some future point, when I’m no longer in the grip of the time famine so characteristic of my life at the moment. And that may well be heaven. I expect there, as well as being able to access all the books in the world, I’d have all the time in the world to savour them.
Sometimes I go to Amazon merely to peruse my list. It’s a living, growing, forever changing thing. One that reflects my changing tastes, the recommendations of others, and my passing and not so passing interests. It’s a list which, to me, sizzles with anticipation. At the tap of a finger I can add, delete and, best of all, select my next purchase. That done, the book arrives in my Kindle almost instantaneously via Whisper Net – a magical internet phenomenon. Whisper Net. The words conjure up the sound of a new book: the whisper of new ideas, and new worlds – the swish and the swoosh of a digital flying carpet.
Wonderful as my Kindle is, and as grateful as I am for a world where such a thing exists, there are times and situations where the physical book is best. Not every book has been digitised, yet, and not every book is available via Amazon. It’s a political issue, a bit like how going off in search of a beach and an ice-cream turned out to be political. (It’s true: all things are political.) There’s plenty of information out there about Bezos’ quest for world domination, the working conditions of his staff, and the implications of the new era for both publishers and writers. This February 17th The New Yorker article Cheap Words by George Packer observes that Amazon may well be good for readers, for now, but questions the long-term impact. Packer asks if Amazon cares whether books are any good.I suspect that if Amazon don’t keep their eye on this aspect of their product the market will dry up. For while heaven might be all the books in the world, there’s a codicil for me: heaven is all the quality books in the world. (My heaven, so my definition!)
The courier delivered these two books to our place last week. They’re the only hard copy books I’ve purchased this year.
I’ve wanted to get my hands on the Ray Bradbury for months. It’s an example of a book I’d prefer to have on my Kindle but that’s not an option, at least not yet. Neither is it easy to come-by in New Zealand book shops. I ordered it on-line. With the thought that perhaps it would be good to support a different corporation I used Fishpond, a New Zealand company. I have no idea where they sourced my copy. The first chapter is great – as I knew it would be. I’ll post more about it when I’ve finished the book.
As for the Lonely Planet, during our trips to Thailand in 2012 and 2013 we used the digital guide. I might be keen on my Kindle but that Thailand version drove me nuts. I couldn’t navigate my way around it easily, at all. I thought it might be an age thing, a not being a digital native thing. Until I noticed that a fair proportion of the young backpackers we met were using hard copies.
Our proposed trip to Laos is nine months away – we won’t be booking the flights for a while. But my husband and I spent a few hours yesterday pouring over the book, studying the photos, considering itineraries: dreaming. We have a tentative plan, an adventure wish list. A list that we’ll add to and take way from many times over the coming months. A list we both know will deserve at least twice the time we have available for the trip. At this stage it includes: trekking, elephants, home stays, slow boats,and bamboo bridges. I did notice in the photos that there were no handrails on some of those bridges! I’ll be talking to my trainer at the gym about exercises to improve my balance. I’ve got nine months.
When it comes to travel, anticipation is at least a third of the experience, don’t you think?
Categories: On Books