Thursday, 31 March 2011

How my e-reader is making my life easier

A few weeks ago I wrote a blogpost about how travelling with a Kindle wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. On a short flight to London, I was asked by the air stewardess to switch it off upon take off and landing (I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was unable to; it goes into sleep mode itself after a period of not being used.)

Some readers commented that in fact it was my fault (yes, I’m looking at you @anseoamuinteoir); I had complained because it ran out of battery when I wanted it, and was not able to use it for the entire duration of the flight, unlike a paper book.

So I promised I would write another article to balance my previous one. In fact, it was terribly easy to come up the advantage the Kindle/e-reader has to offer.

I’m currently in Ljubljana, Slovenia, attending the World Book Summit and meetings with the Federation of European Publishers (FEP). I’m the Irish representative to the FEP and we have meetings around Europe five times a year.

In advance of the meetings, the FEP staff email several documents to the representatives; the agenda, any relevant court rulings, lots of potential amendments to Bills across Europe, so the pre-meeting reading material can amount to close to 200 pages. I often frantically print these documents a day or two before the meeting, and read through them at the airport(s) and on the plane. This can be terribly messy unless you’re terribly organised (I’m not) and results in pages falling down, and never being able to find the right document during the discussion about that particular topic.

Then along came Kindle.

The ability to be able to email the documents to myself has radically changed my modus operandi. As each document came into my inbox, I immediately forwarded it to my Kindle, and would read through it at night before resuming my novel. By the time I got onto the plane, I was able to read through complex court rulings quite easily; the Kindle is a pleasurable reading experience. I could then take notes in comfort; not needing my cumbersome laptop, or flicking through 200 pages of unsorted paperwork. I can easily find each document on the Kindle.

Some people mistakenly think publishers fear the digital age; that we are luddites who only deal in paper editions of books. This is clearly not true.
I’m sitting at a riverside cafe in Ljubljana writing this on my laptop, enjoying the warm sunshine, listening to my ipod, with my Kindle stashed in my bag while I wait to attend the FEP meeting. The technological revolution keeps evolving and changing, and making people’s lives easier and better. I thoroughly embrace all new technologies, as does my company, Maverick House.

Maverick House is converting its back catalogue to e-books at the moment; our catalogue consists of about 100 books, so it will take some time to see the entire list there, but we are doing simultaneous editions of every book we’ve published since this year. The next book Maverick will produce as an e-book is The Templars and the Shroud of Christ, by Vatican historian, Barbara Frale which will also be published in a paperback in April 2011.

As a publisher, I am often asked how e-books will affect publishing. The truth is that publishers want people to read; it doesn’t really matter what format it’s in. If people read, whether it’s on an e-reader or a paper book, it doesn’t really matter. We produce content and we disseminate it to an audience to consume in whatever way they want. The important thing is that people continue to read, especially the next generation. If we lose a generation and they don’t embrace reading, then we will lose a generation of writers. In order to write, and to write well, the most important thing is to read.

As for me, I’m currently reading a novel on my Kindle, which is light and easy to transport (the novel has about 500 pages in the paper edition). I also have a stack of books on my bedside locker, one of which will be my next reading choice.

Books and e-readers will continue to live side by side, and e-readers will continue to improve with each release. I don’t know how people will read in the future and the truth is I don’t care, as long as they are reading. And Maverick House will continue to keep up with technology and cater for our readers.

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