I’m off on my holidays tomorrow, jetting to New York with a group of girl friends.
It’s the first time I’ve been to the States, so the trip has taken some careful preparation.
I’m not talking about the new clothes or the carefully-applied nail varnish.
For me, being prepared is all about choosing the right books to take.
I’m a bit of a book purist. I far prefer a paperback than an electronic version of the same novel.
After all, electronic products don’t work so well in the bath.
But I do confess to owning a Kindle, purely because I got tired of using up valuable luggage allowance on books which could be better used for shoes.
While I do think it’s a brilliant invention, nothing will be able to take the place of books. I love going into libraries and bookshops, and smelling that new-book smell when buying the latest page-turner.
It seems, though, that not everyone feels the same way.
I was a little bit dismayed last week when I read – on the internet – about a chap who was researching his own book, and needed to double-check a line from Hamlet.
But though, presumably, his own book will come out in paper form, and though he was sitting in the British Library at the time, instead of wandering to the Shakespeare section and looking it up by hand, he turned to the world wide web.
The author, Mark Foster, said Massachusetts Institute of Technology has put the whole works online, and to order a book at the library takes 70 minutes.
And that’s fine. But what isn’t, is that when the library wi-fi blocked the play because of its violent content (spoiler alert: everyone dies), the author took to his blog to complain about the wi-fi at the BL being useless.
Seeing as we are at risk of losing our libraries, perhaps Mr Foster, and all those who need to research books or whatnot would do better in their own municipal libraries, where getting to books takes just as long as the time taken to walk to the right shelf.
Polonius – in Hamlet – might have said ‘Neither a borrower nor a lender be’, but I think in the case of authors and libraries, that advice should be ignored.