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I have a Kobo. Not an exotic pet or a cancerous lump, but an eReader.

They are the official e-reader partner of WH Smith (as Nook are to Barnes and Noble, Kindle to Amazon and the Sony eReader to the smallest violin in the world).

You can’t sadly, buy crisps or colouring in books on them. (You can however, make art, but thats a different paragraph).

—Unrelated, but an excellent song, and if you are feeling abandoned, this is a pretty upbeat exploration of your situation. Perhaps I pity the Sony eReader, and that is why this popped into my head.

Name aside, they are really fit. They have this gorgeous quilted back, which if you squint and pretend its not an electrical item, looks like it might have been made by Chanel.

 

The quilting, dinky size and lack of buttons makes it very definitely FOR GURLS.

Statistics show (don’t ask me to cite any, this isn’t working hours, bitches) that beyond early adopters, its the GURLS who buy ereaders.

Why? I hear you cry. The answer – to read erotica. I mean, ROMANCE NOVELS. AKA, pornography for brains aroused by narratives, rather than images.

I mean it isn’t just that – its all women’s fiction – from the yummy mummy to the sexy secretary with, to be fair because I secretly love women’s fiction – a good deal of semi-feminist struggles, quests for liberation, embracing of stretchmarks and dealing with feelings thrown in.

But that doesn’t sound nearly as good, does it?

And it is very true that ‘forbidden literature’, which is a primarily female market, because it is perhaps difficult for women to feel confident in purchasing erotic fiction, as if this expresses something unpleasant about them, their sexuality, their intellect, or their partner.

But there has also been a spike in gay erotica purchases, and in other, lighter books across all markets, including terrible crime, and those books where endless Roman legions are ‘lost in mist’ and burly soldiers seduce local girls and their is TONS of bloodshed.

You get the picture.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. Its certainly very healthy for the publishing industry. To celebrate, I have bought one science fiction book, three classics, and two Mills and Boon. GET IN. My tube ride tomorrow is going to be so multi-genre I’ll doubtless explode.

Seriously, though, ereaders go some way to undercutting literary pretentions. In a society where high and low brow culture now seem polarised without anyone consuming or defining the middle brow (see this excellent blog, written by a lovely fellow Emmanuelite and now advertising superstar:http://whyareyoulikethis.wordpress.com/, you are now allowed to consume low-brow without any of the associated shame.

I have never had any shame about reading ‘trash’ – nor have most of the literature grads I know. I reckon we perhaps share the feeling that if you’ve read the entire works of Chaucer and all of Greek tragedy, nobody can call you on the odd historical romance/spy book/romance novel. Its like being a pure mathematician and not being able add – you know what, they can do maths in like SIX DIMENSIONS. You divide the bill, mere mortal.

Seeing all Six Dimensions of the Lorentz Group of Special Relativity, yo.

However, sales indicated that not everyone was a self-righteous dickhead, and that some people did feel negatively about people knowing their minds were not being perpetually honed into razor sharp machines. They will soon again, though, because everyone will realise what they are doing behind the ereader.

The Kobo in and of itself is really great – easy to use, easy to share what you are reading (although with an option to do so selectively, so you don’t have to confess), easy to navigate, the e-ink is dreamy, its incredibly light and has wifi internet browsing. Its intuitive as a device, and I feel genuinely excited to start reading on it in earnest.

The store, however, where you actually buy your books, is terrible. Badly designed, and lacking as yet the deep discounts amazon can offer kindle users. It is incredibly slow (you’d be faster popping to Waterstones) and has no tabs, so you can only browse one book at a time. It also has a search function that reminds me of Bing. Always sad when Amazon are your google, so to speak. Anyway.

Its a 9/10 in everything, for me, except the shopping, which is almost hilariously shit – although I assume (pray) it will improve, and the fact its a highly gendered item. I know books are too, whatever I think about that (and trust me, I have VIEWS of the kind that are shouted on street corners by sailors) but I thought maybe in the era of the shame-freeing ereader, we might let men cosy up with a Cecilia Ahern without just replacing the embossed cover with a pink quilted one.

However, doubtless more updates will come forth, but I must leave you for now – I have a series of unmentionable books to devour.

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