Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Should we ban Kindles in our shop?

A second-hand bookseller in Hay-on-Wye wants a ban on Kindles and other e-book readers during the famous Hay literary festival.

He says, "Kindles have no place at this festival which is supposed to be a celebration of the written word - and books. Booksellers definitely want them banned… Kindles are just a phase and they won't last. They are our enemy."

The bookseller in question even has a window display of a picture of an e-reader next to a gravestone. As a contrast, the director of the festival thinks "Anything that encourages people to read in any format is fantastic."

Manchester has lost most of its bookshops as people abandon the 'shop local' mantra and embrace online shopping. We do get people scanning barcodes in our shop in order to shop online. Is technology a threat? Or do we embrace it because we're modern and we're cool and we sell e-books too?

There are several ways of looking at this. And yes, we're going to say 'Kindle' instead of 'e-reader' because we might as well call a hoover a hoover:

- One. Kindles are a passing fad and they'll fade away like Betamax and Tamagotchi;

- Two. People tend to buy different things on Kindle: they're a complement rather than a threat;

- Three. Books are technology too: bookshops need to understand this and move with the times;

- Four. Kindles are the final Apple-branded nail in the coffin of the bookshop;

- Five. The Kindle will one day rise up against its human masters and, firing apple-shaped grenades from its screen, will enslave all sentient beings in a thousand-year reign of terror (which happens to include flipping the world sideways if you cock your head 90 degrees).

We won't ban Kindles in our shop, obviously. But there's a fascinating shift in bookselling taking place at the moment.

What do you think? Would you put a picture of an e-reader next to a gravestone? What do you buy for your Kindle? Are you responsible for the destruction of the bookshop / of the book / of all known humanity?

Let us know in the comments.

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