Wednesday 14 December 2011, 12:44
Like, what's the point? I don't need one. And it's just a passing fad, anyway, like the personal-organiser and the mini-disc. And why would I want another charger to add to the 26 I already have and can't remember what most of them are for? Besides, think how many paperbacks you can get for 90 quid.
Listen, don't think it was only me. Most of the authors I know - and I know a lot of them - say the same things, and what they don't say but think is: do I really want to spend a whole year of long hours, head-beating and hand-wringing to create something THAT DOESN'T EXIST?
Anyway, I used to think all that, but now I can't say anything because... I've got one.
An ebook reader on top of a paperback
I've had it just over a week. Periodically, I switch it on, just so I can switch it off again and puzzle over why it never shuts down on a screen-picture of the same author twice: Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde... how long before it gets to Dan Brown?
Of course, I still say I might never have acquired one if it hadn't been an essential research-tool for the last in the current series of Phil the Shelf, in which several authors, a publisher and a bookseller discuss how the ebook reader has changed their lives and their income levels, in both positive and negative ways.
According to Wikipedia, the first ebook reader, as we know them today, was launched in 2004, to widespread apathy.
Not any more. This Christmas the Amazon Kindle will probably be under more trees than iPhones, Xboxes and all the other alphabetical techno-toys put together. Suddenly, it's like you're meant to feel uncool if you're seen in a train, a bus or a dentist's waiting room without one.
However, among the places you're well advised not to be seen with a Kindle, Kobo or Nook are Derek Addiman's three bookshops in Hay-on-Wye.
The ebook is, potentially, a massive threat to the second hand book industry because you can't exactly put all your used virtual volumes into a box and take them to Hay. Whichever way you look at it, from now on there are going to be fewer actual books around.
You can hear Derek's unrestrained, uncensored views on the Kindle in Sunday's programme, along with the other side of the story.
North Wales romantic comedy writer Trisha Ashley reveals how the ebook has opened up a whole new audience for her novels. And Scott Mariani, who lives near Carmarthen, found he'd become King Kindle when a cut-price virtual version of one of his Ben Hope thrillers shot to the Amazon Number One spot.
More significantly, he also explains in the programme how authors are able to use ebooks to multiply their earnings at the expense of the mainstream publishing industry.
What it amounts to is something approximating to the Arab Spring, where mid-list authors - for so long the underdogs, kicked around by publishers and spurned by High Street bookchains - can finally regain power. Although the sinister side of this is the terrifying trajectory of Amazon to a position close to bookworld-domination.
Is it all going to spell the end of the physical book?
Well, no. Although paperback sales may continue to slump, the hardback will survive, if only because the ebook reader is never going to look good on a shelf.
What we might see is far more attention being paid by publishers to the design and quality of a hardback - in much the same way as more CDs are appearing in digipacks with gatefold sleeves and booklets, to provide something you can't get from a download.
But ebooks are also getting cleverer, as novels increasingly come with extra electronic sights and sounds.
The war has barely begun.
Watch this space...
Listen to Phil the Shelf on BBC Radio Wales on Sunday from 5pm.