Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 9 February 2009

Time to stop being sentimental?

Here’s an odd literary problem.

For two years I’ve edited a biography. The author and I are now satisfied the manuscript is factually and stylistically acceptable. There remains one final task: to read the MS as if for the first time. To assess it as a reader would.

The author has done this but I’ve held back, doubting my objectivity. Every sentence is so damn familiar. I decided I needed to avoid the computer screen. I could print the MS and read the paper - a horrible waste of consumables. Or I could download to an ebook reader. This technology has greatly improved: the text looks like print on paper not dancing electric dots, you “turn” the pages, a battery charge provides 7000 page turns and the system operates in strong sunlight. A Sony reader costs £220 but I can see subsequent uses.

I asked a super-techno friend who said: “Personally I wouldn't touch a dedicated ebook reader, though it's a case of I haven't tried it because I don't like it. If you want to read (the MS) afresh, print it out, preferably double-sided, cut it to book size and put it in an A5 size folder.” A quick trawl of my PC doesn’t immediately reveal how you print double-sided. A manual solution would be extremely tedious.

I’m on shaky ground. Most, if not all, of this blog’s respondents are passionately and emotionally attached to books. As I am. But once I was attached to my typewriter and here I am initiating streams of electrons. The last holiday on facility-less Karpathos meant that the weightiest part of our luggage consisted of books. An ebook reader can contain 160. Hmmm.


Zhoen said...

Give the ebook reader a try. Not everyone is more in love with paper than with the words written on them.

Sir Hugh said...

Methinks it's a good idea to let you try it out first.

How much does it weigh? (possible application for backpacking).

Barrett Bonden said...

Zhoen: I think you're right. Switching to a completely different format and getting along with it, would prove the contents are more important than the way they are presented.

Sir Hugh: It's about the size of a paperback and weighs 255 gm. Just one disadvantage. At home you would charge it via a USB connection to the computer. Playing away you'd need a charger lead which, as is always the case with battery powered eqpt, is an extortionate £22.50

Avus said...

My Australian son-in-law spends most of his working time flying in and out of main and remote Aussie airports/fields(see:http://cinemal.livejournal.com/ )

He swears by his ebook, but I just could not get along with one.

Sarah said...

Has to be a book what if the battery went flat in an air port and the charger was in your luggage - doesn't bear contemplation. Printing "duplex" - select "print" select "properties" 'tis very easy from there.