Fay Weldon recently asserted that a writer should produce two versions of their book. One for those capable of concentrating enough to understand a literary paper book,and another lightweight Kindle text to entertain those with limited attention spans.
Although she was being provocative,garnering press attention in the process,she has raised some thought-provoking issues. There’s been research that shows how those who use e-reading devices are less able to recall details about what they’ve read,compared to those who have just taken in the same story on a hard copy.
Author D.J. Taylor launched a riposte in today’s Independent newspaper.
He makes some valid points,but has chosen to ignore the one saving grace about the whole situation – people are reading. As a wise aphorism goes ‘ A non reader holds no advantage over someone who cannot read at all.’
When I worked as a librarian,I sometimes wondered at the choices that people made when borrowing books – but at least they were reading. If they started with something that wasn’t very challenging,then they might move onto a novel that made them think.
Mind you,some readers take their devotion to an author to extremes. I once knew a man who only read Stephen King stories,and he collected them in all of their different editions,books covers and foreign language versions. He had a room devoted to them,with thousands of books lining the walls. It was like being in a sinister temple.
It reminded me of a joke : A man goes into a pub,and orders a stiff drink from the barman. He looks depressed,so the barman asks him what the problem is. The man replies : ” My wife left me,and all because I like cheese sandwiches. ” The barman is puzzled,replying ” But there’s nothing wrong with cheese sandwiches. I quite like them myself – cheese and onion,cheese and tomato,cheese and pickle – lovely.” The drinker’s face lights up : ” Wonderful – you understand – would you like to come back to my place,and see my collection ? I’ve got hundreds ! “