Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

28 March 2012

There's a Lot Missing From a Kindle e-book

There's a lot to be said for Amazon's Kindle e-books. They're cheap and immediately available with tremendous range of titles. The Kindle or iPad reader is convenient to handle and can store books that used to require bookshelves. I have over 5000 real books in my house, I could probably store that many on my iPad - I don't know, I haven't had it long enough.

But having been reading e-books for a little while now, and having had three of my own books published, I am beginning to see some things missing.

For a start, although you can increase or decrease the type size, you're stuck with Georgia, a typeface designed specifically for Microsoft for use on computer screens. It's very legible but, being a typographer from hot metal days, I crave variety. I would so much like to have choice to go with my mood and mood of the book I'm reading. Garamond, Baskerville, Bell, Perpetua, Times...

Next you're stuck with page size. It's the size of the screen you're reading the book on.

Then, there's no 'feel'. Every printed book has its own feel: there's the dust wrapper to start with, or the paper-back cover; then the binding -  leather, buckram, glazed card, fabric; the paper of varying thickness - glossy, art, antique or laid with cut or uncut edges. There's little opportunity to fiddle with 'apparent' paper on an e-book - you can go sepia or white on black (shudder) but not much else.

And the weight, how a book bulks up in the hand. With an e-book it'll weigh the same whether there are 1000 pages or 100.

Having said all that, I've noticed that with the Gutenberg Project books you can choose from a range of typefaces and that's great if you're reading old classics but you won't find John Grisham in Gutenberg.

Lastly, what if you want to give an e-book as a gift? Have you found a way to write a personalized presentation message in it yet?

Not everything changes for the better.



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By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.