Monday, April 05, 2010


It is not often I will agree with Louise Adler, that paean of the juste milieu in Australian publishing, and even less seldom will I publicly admit to such a strange and unwelcome confluence. But Ms Adler’s op-ed in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Spirit of literature turns to kindling, made some interesting points about the Kindle phenomenon.

First and foremost I agree with Louise that the technology is clunky and geared toward inadvertent purchases, a common snare of this still-nascent digital age. It is also Americo-centric and lit-lite, undermining somewhat its claims to accessibility for those who, for whatever reason, cannot muster the time, energy, or inclination to step inside a bookstore.

However, nowhere does Ms Louise relate the most common complaint amongst “Kindlers”, that being that they miss the tactile pleasures of opening a book and immersing themselves in its off-white pages. Ah, the smell of a book hot off the press! Not forgetting that it is rather ill-advised to take an electronic device such as an i-pad into the bath. This omission may or may not be telling, but Ms Adler’s proposition that the established publishing industry protects the unwitting reader from dross is simply too bold a claim for this blogger to let pass. In her very own article, Adler herself is guilty of two editorial howlers – “Consequently, publishers are skeptical about partnerships on behalf of their authors’ behalf”, and “readers should be beware”. Oh dear. Once upon a time when I was still a cadet on Jones street, some wizened old sub would have swept such howlers off the table, but Louise Adler’s reputation (apparently) carries all before it, and anyway I’m not all that sure our beleaguered newspapers still carry subs.

What are your thoughts on the Kindle phenomenon? Have your say in the poll to the right.

And while we’re on the subject of editors, I have a few collective nouns to throw their way:

            A shriek of teenagers
            A maw of shoppers
            A patchouli of hippies
            A spleen of Kiwis
            A sulk of poets
            A scorn of Poms
            A pedant of Justins

Feel free to add to the list.

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