This week, I have been forced to stop ignoring the Kindle. I’ve resisted electronic book readers for several reasons:
1. I can drop a book from any height onto any surface, and it still won’t break.
2. I can loan a book to a friend after I’ve read it.
3. I like page numbers. It’s not the same knowing I’ve read 37% of a book.
Reason number 4 used to be that I couldn’t use a Kindle for library books, but that’s no longer true here in San Francisco. I don’t understand why I still have to be on a wait list for an ebook, but that’s a discussion for later!
I finally decided to give the Kindle a try, so I borrowed one from a friend to read Dragon Solstice by Nance Crawford. Now, my friend’s Kindle is really old. I think it’s one of the first ones, so perhaps it’s not fair to judge all electronic readers based on this version. I don’t like how often I have to hit the ‘next page’ button, even after setting the font as small as I can comfortably read. I also don’t like how the screen goes black while the page reloads, which is hard on my eyes. Perhaps these problems have been fixed in newer versions. I’m hoping someone here will fill me in.
In spite of my issues with the Kindle, I really enjoyed Dragon Solstice. It’s a fairy tale adventure about a misunderstood dragon and a feisty little girl who get a bit lost in the forest and end up…no, sorry, I don’t do plot spoilers. It’s a charming story, suitable for children but with plenty of wry humor for older readers. It would make a good bedtime story read in chapters, since it’s not scary or violent. At least, I think it would, since I don’t have any kids to try it out on. If I did have children, I wouldn’t stop reading to them after they graduated from picture books. I have great memories of my mother reading us books we could have read by ourselves, especially Roald Dahl’s James and The Giant Peach. It would have given me the creepy-crawlies on my own, but having my mother read it made it tolerable. I still love a good adventure, but I definitely prefer friendly dragons to giant bugs. Dragon Solstice is at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback, and you can visit the author at www.NanceCrawford.com.
the Chatto & Windus hardback and the Vintage paperback
While I was browsing books at Amazon this morning, I decided to check the listing for 18 Folgate Street: The Tale of a House in Spitalfields. It was written by my uncle, Dennis Severs, and I did the photography (not the illustrations—Amazon has that wrong). It’s been out of print for years, so I occasionally look at the prices on used copies. Today I found a copy of the Vintage paperback selling for $999.00. The real surprise was discovering that the book is now available in a Kindle edition. Nobody told me! Hopefully the color photographs will look okay on an electronic screen.
sorting slides at Random House
I still find myself wishing I hadn’t been so naive when I submitted my collection of slides to the publishers. I assumed that the photos that I thought were the best would be the ones they would pick. Instead, a number of dark, fuzzy photos were chosen along with some of my favorites. An experienced photographer would have known to leave out the not-so-good ones. Once I turned in my photographs and signed the contract, I didn’t have anything to do with the publishing process. The editor sent me proofs and sample covers, so I did get to see how the book was progressing. Just visiting Random House UK was amazing. Everyone I met there was delightful, starting with Jeanette in reception. The best part? Visiting the editors and leaving with as many free books as I could carry. All I had to do was gaze longingly at the shelves of new titles, and they’d invite me to take some. It was a book lover’s heaven.
Should you download 18 Folgate Street to your Kindle¹? I’ll be honest. There are some wonderful things in the book, but it’s quirky. My uncle’s strong personality comes through in his writing. He was a born storyteller who avoided the written word due to severe dyslexia, until he decided to write his book. He worked for years writing and revising, trying to find the best way to express his ideas on paper. Sadly, he died before the book was published. I think his prologue is the best chapter. As for my photographs, some of them are terrific. Some of them are not. One of them is a complete mystery to me. The color image on page 24 (firewood in baskets with a broom on the stairs) is a flash photograph, and it’s not mine. All my photographs were taken using available light. I don’t know where that one came from, and it’s been bugging me for ten years. It’s great having my own blog, so I can get that off my chest!
To read more about my uncle and see photos of him and his house, click on his name in the category cloud or in the tags above.
¹Or iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android, PC or Mac