Tuesday, 20 December 2011

To Kindle Or Not To Kindle?

Chris Darnell's The Return
The first Paul Stanton military thriller

By Chris Darnell

Let me make it clear from the outset: I LOVE books.  Physical books.  Books you can feel and smell.  Books you can pick up and handle lovingly, that make you think again about the enjoyment the words in them gave you whenever it was you read them.  I love them and I always have done and always will.  Ask my wife, my mother, my family, my friends.  And I have many hundreds of them – all lovingly packed into large, airtight containers and stored in my mother’s car-less garage, because I can no longer display them.  I don’t have the bookshelf space nor is there the structural strength in our flat to do so.

I was an avid reader from an early age.  In my mid-teens, when my father gave me sufficient pocket money to subscribe to monthly book publications, I started collecting the various authors published by Heron Books.  Does anyone remember them?  Steinbeck, Conrad, Dickens, the great Russian authors.  I still have them; along with all my first edition Alistair MacLeans and the worn copies of Hammond Innes and Ernest K. Gann - some of the authors my father said I had to read – and my many and much loved John Buchan books, collected from the wonderful second-hand book shops of Edinburgh when I was commanding my battalion there in the late eighties.  They are all in my mother’s garage.

I love books, but I also love my Kindle; and it’s still something of a surprise to me even after six months of ‘electronic reading’, because I thought the ebook format and its reading device might kill or at least dampen my reading enjoyment.  The reality has been quite the opposite.  It’s just great not having to pack and lug around all the books you want to read when you go away or travel anywhere.

So what has this got to do with the great British thriller?  It is somewhat tangential, but in my view the kindle reading experience can enhance the enjoyment of the thriller.  At least that’s what I’ve found.  It does of course depend on the quality of the thriller and the quality of the ebook product, and as I’ve only just started out on my learning path in both these areas, I’m not an authority.

Publishing an ebook might sound simple but it isn’t.  I published The Return in this format because it was the best way at the time to get my thriller into the marketplace where I believed there was an audience for it.  I’m a thorough type of person and as I went through the many iterations of trying to create my ebook I found it frustrating how many errors crept into the transliteration of my word document manuscript.  The interactive menu is critical for an ebook and this, along with spacings and breaks, requires meticulous checking before you go live with it.  But once it is all correctly formatted, then the reading experience is, in my view, fast-paced and page-turning, literally at the click of a Kindle tab, which is how a good thriller should be read.  I seem to read far more quickly with my Kindle than I used to.

But it is the quality of the thriller that is the essence.  If the plot creation is clever and intriguing, the action fast-paced and the characters and settings mysterious, dark, colourful or whatever captures your interest, then it will make you want to turn the pages.  Reading it on a Kindle will not in any way diminish this experience.

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