Monday, 23 August 2010


There's been the drone of contstant chatter and natter in the press, on TV and radio, on readers' and writers' forums, no doubt in pubs and parlours around the world and certainly in the blogasphere of late lamenting the passing of teenage literacy and sustained reading interest.

Some links to follow, but I came across this today at a massive 50,000-member forum for ebook reading folks:

More and more young people will lose literacy as encounters with any sort of long-form text disappear in an onslaught of video and aural bombardment and interaction. Critical thinking is a skill developed through learning to take a longer view and time to consider multiple aspects. Slicing everything into bite sized pieces doesn't lay the ground work for that training.

Yesterday morning, I'd have readily agreed with that. Last night changed my mind completely.

My sixteen-year-old schoolgirl granddaughter, Robyn, is over in France with Skovia and me for a wee holiday with her mum and dad and other grandma and granddad. Uncle Alex (who some of you know from BeWrite Books) arrives tomorrow.

I reckoned Robyn was pretty much representative of her age group, judging by her fun FaceBook posts and text messages in some kind of odd teen-jargon that I can hardly understand: All phonetic spelling, obscure abbreviations, no capitals, no punctuation.

After my epiphany, I certainly hope she is representative.

Last night, she suddenly became still and hushed on a lounger on the terrace. She was reading a YA paperback. After two or three hours, she toddled off to bed and I took a look at the book. It runs to around 400 pages, is intelligently written ... and a bookmark showed she was well into it.

She'd been utterly absorbed in her novel and its world, while three handy computers lay idle.

Maybe I misunderstood all along and was too qiuck to judge.

Here, on the other hand, is what some prophets of doom have been saying over the weekend:

The popular An American Editor blog

There's no shortage of gloomy articles on the net forecasting the death of teenage reading. None impress me as much as wee Robyn's simple and quiet evidence to the contrary.

Happy reading and writing, people. Thanks for your company. Neil

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


Well, as they say, folks ... you read it here first!

It's eighteen months since we predicted an ebook reader at less than £100 in the UK and under $100 in the US well before the end of 2011.

In past weeks and months, several manufacturers and retailers have already beaten the hundred-buck-barrier over the Shining Big Sea Water and just this week Waterstones in Britain has announced the Sony Reader Pocket Edition on sale at £99.99

This neat and powerful wee e-ink gizmo can hold up to 350 titles at once (bye-bye excess baggage charges for holiday reading), but by using free software like Calibre there is no limit to the size of the virtual library you can build on a PC or laptop to store your books for instant download and to qiuckly and easily convert digital files from one format to another, according to what's best for your electronic reading device.

On a single charge, you'll have about 7,000 page turns -- that would account for some twenty-five or more standard novels before you need an hour or two's re-charge. Text size can be increased, of course, which is a big deal when your eyes are as old as mine (122 years between them, they have -- and they've seen some heavy use). And your favourite classics and other public domain books are out there for free download as well as tens of thousands of contemporary works and best-sellers at major and minor new ebook stores. Our own, for instance.

I use a Sony PRS 505 for recreational reading and I can't recommend the Sony hardware highly enough. (We're in no way associated with the company. This is merely informal and personal opinion.)

So I wonder if the prediction I made at the very start of the millenium will also come true ... and that we'll see reading devices, bubble-wrapped and on display at supermarket checkouts for fifty bucks, before 2012 is out.

Fingers crossed. Neil