As a newcomer to the world of writing I figured it would be a grand idea to attend a book related event. Feeling mildly cultural I strode out in semi-confidence and in the pouring rain, to the Book Machine event held at the Red Roaster café in Brighton (sponsored by Completely Novel) with a speaker from World Book Night. Topic of conversation: “what do we do about digital?”
Clearly the demise of the bookshops on our high streets is a sad tale, especially for those of us who treasure the Aladdin’s cave type environment of the traditional old style, as opposed to the blindingly Disneyesque monstrosities whose purpose in life seems solely to promote z list celebrities’ latest offering of self indulgent banality, which is only rendered passable for English language thanks to some poor sod who has had to write its contents on their behalf.
The digital age has meant that we are spending our hard earned cash on electronic devices and consequent forms of entertainment with which to fill them, such as games, apps, books etc. The print versus digital debate for books is not a difficult one for many. Buy it from a bookshop £19.99, buy it online £9.99.
My vote goes to embracing digital. Whilst I am a fan of having the feel of a printed book in my hands, the smell of the paper and print, the memories of crying and laughing whilst in the bath reading, we need to find ways of encouraging readers through different means. I completely understand the new generation of e-readers, it makes for a much less cumbersome activity whilst on the commute or on holidays. Thinking differently is what we all need to do and find a way to tap into social groups, be it online or in the pub.
Apart from the free glass of wine and canapés included in the £5 entry fee, I took away with me a small nibble of an insight into an industry undergoing enormous change which is always exciting, although perhaps not for those who are trying to manage it!
I chatted to a good number of people, publishers and writers alike. It was interesting to see the difference between those ‘at work’, and those who write – there is a marked distinction in level of enthusiasm and happiness. However there was one lady who dispelled that viewpoint. She was warm and engaging, interested in my work and interesting to talk to. To our delight, she won a set of books in the prize draw.
Seeing someone smile so brightly with joy is a very special treat. The walk in the rain to the train station was worth it just for that alone.