Hay Literary Festival Booksellers Fight To Ban ‘Soulless’ Kindles + A Small Rant
According to the Daily Mail today, organisers of the internationally renowned Hay Festival are facing a revolt from traders who want a ban on Kindles, which they describe as ‘the enemy of books’.
Nobel prize-winning writers, politicians and musicians will descend on the small market town of Hay-on-Wye for the literature and the arts festival which started today. But the event, which attracts around 250,000 people from across the world, threatens to be overshadowed by book shop owners declaring war on Kindles.
The boycott comes after six independent book shops have been forced to close in the town since Christmas. Booksellers are placing blame on Amazon’s kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, which sell new release books at uncompetitive prices of $9.95.
Protester Derek Addyman, 57, has built a bizarre cemetery scene in one of his three book shop windows showing a gravestone next to a picture of one of the e-book readers. He spoke to the Daily Mail about why he is protesting the new eBook devices:
‘There is definitely a thing among booksellers that Kindles aren’t good news. Kindles have no soul, they’re not sexy, it is just a toy and the best place for it is the bin. If you see someone reading a book, you always look at what they are reading and you try to work out what kind of person they are, but you can’t do that with Kindles. You can’t lend a Kindle to a friend like you can with books. Kindles can’t be recycled like books. We have seen half a dozen book shops go out of business this year. Without the support of people going into these shops, we won’t have any independent sellers left in a few years. Kindles have no place at this festival which is supposed to be a celebration of the written word – and books.’
To further bring his point home Mr. Addyman said, ‘Booksellers here definitely want them banned. You see people walking around with Kindles and they are like robots in another world.Books are sociable and people stop and talk to each other about them. Kindles are just a phase and they won’t last. They are our enemy.’
I feel like Mr Addyman has a point about how we can’t lend a Kindle book to a friend without having to lend the whole device to them. (And you certainly don’t want you friend to lose your $99 Kindle!) but I feel like the rest of his argument is shockingly backward. While bookstores are definitely suffering under the changes of the book industry, I don’t think we can blame it on kindles. Our society is growing more concerned with getting things for free. Think about how many of us download movies or music for free. So Amazon and the Book Depository have changed the way we can buy books. People are never going to stop buying paperback books. Kindles are great devices, I have one and it’s so lightweight to carry but I do love the covers of books enough to keep buying physical books. We can co-exist in the same world! In Australia it is the independent bookstores that have outlived the super sized bookstores like Borders and Angus & Robertson. Collins and Dymocks are the only ones left. In the U.S. Barnes & Nobles doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere and there are still countless independent bookstores surviving. And by the way Mr Addyman, if you want to find out what kind of person someone is by looking at the book that they’re reading so desperately you can just ASK them if they’re reading a kindle – trust me it’ll be just as creepy as you staring at them as they read.
The festival runs until June 10.