Miscellany 2: Electrons and Paper
1. First today, the writer’s tools. Okay, Mac Mountain Lion OS installed, and the first reaction is – it’s bloody fast and more intuitive. I like the search engine being built into the URL and smoothness of operation, still don’t get Mission Control, and like the dock-based Reminders, which replaces the need for Stickies (although I don’t see why you need both – Stickies is required by the OS). But there aren’t really that many changes I can see apart from speed.
2. Congrats to Waterstone’s for starting to sort out their website, but the e-books section still needs work. I’m now on my third e-reader, and have found my buying habits settling down to a roughly equal split between e-books and paperbacks. The loser in this, for me, is the purchase of fiction hardbacks, which seem increasingly overpriced, too heavy to carry around and rather pointless.
3. Social networking is getting more complicated for authors (for example, I have two Facebook profiles, one run jointly by myself and my publisher), which starts to make me wonder if a website is even needed now. By the time I’ve done the day’s roundup it’s taken a minimum of an hour and a half from the morning. And it shouldn’t be a chore – I prefer to do it because I enjoy it.
4. British libraries are in crisis. As the cuts bite and doors close, many are being staffed by unpaid volunteers. But they could be set for a radical overhaul, with books offered beside coffee, IT, murder mystery nights, poetry evenings and open mic sessions if the plans of a private US company be given the green light.
The Maryland-based company LSSI is planning to take over 15% of Britain’s libraries. The “slacks and trainers mentality” among librarians will be abolished, says an LSSI spokesman. In its place will be “a rigorous service culture”. On the surface this is a red rag to a bull, but I wonder if it could help libraries regain their place for new generations. And there are certain libraries I’ve visited which clearly aren’t successful, despite the hard work and good intentions of the staff.
5. What’s on my reading list this week? ‘Seven Days’ by terrific SA author Deon Meyer (pictured below), ‘Farewell Victoria’, a now vanished novel by TE White about the life of a 100 year-old man, the demented ‘The Atrocity Archives’ by Charles Stross, and ongoing;’The Weird’, a superb but insanely vast collection of strange stories by Jeff and Ann Vandemeer that’s physically difficult to carry, better absorbed on Kindle.