A blog about books and reading. How very original!

Are Some Books Better In Printed Form?

The Joy Of E-Readers

kindle voyage e-readerI’ve been using an e-reader for over five years now. I took to it like a duck to water and before very long at all I was pretty much using e-books exclusively.

As an illustration of my rapid conversion, I heard a dull thud from the front hall about a fortnight after I started using my original Kindle. It was a chunky paperback that I had pre-ordered from Amazon and then forgotten about. It was by one of my favourite authors, so I was happy to receive it – but part of me, a fairly large part, wished that I had cancelled the pre-order and downloaded it as an e-book instead.

After only a couple of weeks using my e-reader, I was a total e-book convert. Manhandling chunky paperbacks, using two hands to read, one to hold the book and another to turn the pages, just seemed old fashioned, medieval almost, to me.

The advantages of e-readers are, in my opinion at least, numerous. However, the real big deal is that reading is (even) more enjoyable with an e-reader.

Making The Switch To E-Books

I started using e-readers and e-books almost exclusively very quickly after being introduced to them. There were a few types of books that were better in print than as an e-book, but these were few and far between.

Reference books were something that I still used in the printed format – but that was mostly for work. Books with lots of colour images are an obvious candidate, but I don’t read a lot of those anyway. That being said, my most recent purchase, which was over a year ago now, of a print book was a recipe book for my halogen oven. I did think about getting the e-book and using my tablet, but the thought of smearing the screen with flour, olive oil and who knows what else, made me opt for the printed version instead.

My e-reader is mainly for fun and entertainment. I tend to buy novels, with the odd history book thrown in. I think that the recipe book was my first purchase of that type in about five years.

Digital Wizards

the color of magic by terry pratchettNovels and most history books work fine on an e-reader, but there was one exception. I’m a big fan of Terry Pratchett; I love his Discworld series and find it very entertaining. For a period of time, Terry Pratchett’s novels were one of my rare printed book purchases.

The trouble was/is, that Mr. Pratchett makes extensive use of footnotes in his novels. he uses these to explain various aspects of the Discworld and the characters in it. They are an integral part of the story and the humour.

Trouble was, my original Kindle 2.0 didn’t handle footnotes very well. It was certainly possible to read them, but there was a lot of button pressing and navigating around. I’m happy to admit that it may have been user error rather than any inherent hardware design flaw, but I quite often didn’t make it back to the original point in the story from where I had left to read the footnote. Even when I did find my way back to the correct point in the narrative, it sometimes took me so long (and put me in such a foul temper) that I had lost track of the plot.

So, for a while, Terry Pratchett was the primary cause of my tree killing reading habit. However, since then, e-readers have evolved quite a bit and they handle footnotes a whole lot better. Thanks to touch screen screen technology, footnotes just open in a popup window and it’s easy to get back to where you left off reading the main text. As a result, I have now digitized even Sir Terry and my list of printed book purchases has now dwindled to almost zero.

I think that recipe books, auto-repair manuals and DIY books might be the only prospective purchases in future.

Anyway, however you prefer to read, and whether you’re a fan of Terry Pratchett or not, here’s a short video introduction to the Discworld:


Raising Steam

Raising Steam – by Terry Pratchett

raising steam by terry pratchett“Raising Steam” is Terry Pratchett’s 40th Discworld novel – quite an achievement! It seems to be a novel that has split his legions of fans, some of whom feel that this latest offering is “not in keeping” with the Discworld series. That being said, it doesn’t seem to be a fifty-fifty split, most Discworld fans (including me) seem happy enough.

It’s certainly true that the latter Discworld novels, from about “Monstrous Regiment” onwards, have been getting a little grittier – some would say darker. “Raising Steam” may be the grittiest yet, but if that’s the way that Sir Terry wants to take it, then fair enough. He is the author after all.

Personally speaking, I have always found that although Discworld and Ankh-Morpork are full of wizards, werewolves, vampires, trolls, dwarves, goblins etc. – you definitely feel right at home. It has always been full of humanity’s triumphs and failures – albeit that many of the key players are not human (and some of them are downright inhuman} – and that has surely been a great part of its appeal. However, it may just be that Terry Pratchett is currently making these just a little too obvious for some readers.

For myself, I enjoyed the book. Yes it is a little darker than the last one, which was a little darker than the one before – and so forth, but I don’t think Pratchett has taken things “too far”. It remains an enjoyable read, outrageously funny at points and with plenty in jokes and references to his earlier Discworld novels. The fact that Discworld’s parallels with our own society are a little more in your face doesn’t spoil thing for me at all. You may not agree of course.

In summary, the railroad has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – and it’s going to spread throughout the Disc. It’s a new and exciting age which is bringing change to Ankh-Morpork and Discworld as a whole. Change can be a good thing, as long as it’s properly controlled of course, which is why Lord Vetinari “appoints” Moist von Lipwig (in the form of an offer he can’t refuse) as controller of railway development.

It’s nothing short of the industrial revolution on Discworld, with all the opportunities for success and epoch changing events that entails – and all of the backstabbing and underhand tactics that huge stakes like that always engender. It’s up to Moist to keep thing on the right track.

It is the darkest of the Discworld novels to date, but I enjoyed it (and laughed out loud a few times) nevertheless. Fans of Discworld will enjoy this book – but if you’re new to Terry Pratchett’s work, I would probably start with one of the earlier novels. “The Colour of Magic (Discworld)“, being the first in the series, would be as good a starting point as any.