Books Tonight I attended the Story To Tell event at Liverpool One's Waterstones organised by Pencil Trick Productions, an independent production company which included a Q&A about writing in the modern world with guest speakers Sheila Quigley the crime author, writer and blogger Cath Bore and WEA Creative Tutor Organiser and storyteller, Bernie Kennedy.
Apart from the panel it was mainly an opportunity for local creatives to network which isn't something at which I'm naturally adept but given my situation is something I'm going to have to become unnaturally adept at (if you see what I mean). I did meet a couple of new people, well one new person and someone I already know from Twitter. I'm still on the nursery slopes, then.
Each of these kinds of events always seems to elicit at least one interesting thing and here is one of the interesting things which were elicited tonight. Back in December, during this blog's Review 2011, I was tasked with considering whether the physical book was due to become obsolete (coincidentally with an episode of the BBC's Imagine which did a much better job).
Therein I quoted from a survey which suggested the smallest group buying e-books were the over fifties, the largest the under forties and I set about trying to justify that with talk of portability, publication dates and the death of analogue, which is also roughly what Alan Yentob said a few days later. He also visited the Internet Archive, lucky sod.
What I found out tonight was that once again I should have listened to my Mother. When I was researching that blog post, I asked my parents if they'd use a Kindle and although they answered in the negative, Mum described how many of her friends have them. She also said that they didn't use them much as far as she knew which is why I disregarded the data.
Tonight, Sheila Quigley talked about various platforms and epublishing and described her experiences of book signings and her experience of audiences at book signings was this: she said that young people tend to want the real thing, something on paper, something (I'm extrapolating) to display on the shelf.
Then she said that most often their (grand)parents or the over-fifties in general would be the ones asking if a book was available electronically. When she asked why, they explained that it was because Kindle has the option to change the font size. Just that. Older readers with poorer eyesight can increase the size of the text so that it becomes more comfortable to read.
Well, of course they do. I do too, especially if I'm reading literature because it lessens the intimidating burden of turning a paper page and find a mass of words in six or eight point. When I ran this past my parents, they said it still wouldn't convince them to get a Kindle, but they still like paper books for their tactile nature and still have decent eyesight.
Large print books have generally been available in public libraries but in my experience have boring covers and are displayed away from the rest of the stock. The ability to buy them as ebooks must remove some of the stigma, I suppose, of admitting you even need a large print books (which are available on Amazon but a quick glance suggests sales numbers are minuscule).
I don't really have a conclusion to draw from this other than that the stereotypical expectation of who's using technology continues to change and that it's oddly amongst older people that practicality outweighs owning the physical object. Now, will someone explain to me why young people have started buying vinyl again? Who saw that coming?