I never thought I’d get on with it, let alone learn to love it – still less mourn its loss.
But now it’s gone and there’s a 6-inch, non-glare hole in my heart.
There’s a gap where Kindle used to be.
When it was suggested I try out an e-reader I was puzzled. An e-reader. Was this something capable of reading only the letter “e”? Surely it’s use was limited.
I subsequently discovered “e” stands for something like “electronic” or “email” or “edgy.” I also discovered that an e-reader allows one to read a whole book on a tiddly-widdly hand-held sort of computer called a tablet (although I may have got the last bit wrong).
The sort of computer is so small it fits neatly into the glove compartment of a family saloon, leaving plenty of space for boiled sweets, engine lubricant and a change of underwear.
You no longer have to buy books, not as such. You just stick a cable in your fancy battery-operated e-reader and download the words that make a book.
You then click a few knobs, twiddle a bit and hey, presto! a copy of War and Peace appears on your screen. You can do this in a matter of seconds. You don’t have to leave home, go to a shop or talk to anyone.
The downside is that you don’t get a book as such, by which I mean one made of paper and glue, which also means you don’t get a book cover with eye-catching artwork.
There’s nothing to put on your shelf for display purposes, nothing to place your late-night cup of cocoa on, nothing for swatting blow flies with.
For these reason and many others (I can throw books at Millie, my self-harming cat, to stop her self-harming, but I can’t throw a computer at her) I knew I’d hate the whole idea of an e-reader, specifically a Kindle, which is the mother of all e-readers, apparently.
Kindle, if you are clueless like I was, is made by Amazon, an internet shopping thing. I buy CDs through Amazon because it can source lots of old toot at very reasonable prices. (The Top Gun – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is only £2.69, although you’ll have to pay an extra 30p for Duran Duran’s remastered Rio.)
As well as selling stuff, Amazon appears to make stuff, or at least it makes Kindles. I tried out a Kindle and a competitor, Binatone’s Read Me E-Book.
I was very excited about the Binatone once I learned the company was behind the best electronic game ever: the tennis game you could play on your telly, if you were posh, in 1977. Two players with control sets as sophisticated as sausage rolls had to hit a square-shaped on-screen tennis “ball” with an oblong “racket.”
The ball, which made blips and blurps as it smashed off the “rackets” and deflected off walls, followed “real time” trajectories equalled only by top tennis players like Yvonne Goolagong.
Binatone’s TV Master game, which cost six shillings and eightpence, turned out to be more fun than the company’s Classic E-Book (suggested retail price: £149.99). The e-reader has a six-inch screen with “e-ink” which allows you to read in direct sunlight.
I should also point out that the supported e-book formats include TXT, PDF, HTML, CHM, RTF, FB2, EPUB, TCR, Palm Doc and Open reader. All clear? Good. It’s also got a built-in MP3 player in case the wireless is playing up.
But what you really want to know is this: does the Binatone keep your partner (for me, my wife) awake at night? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.