Ok, I admit it – the title was me trying to be clever but if you stick with me all will be revealed!
Candlepower or candela is a way of measuring luminosity and dates back to the days when we used candles. So 20 candlepower would be the equivalent of the light provided by 20 candles [all lit of course]. And then along came Edison with his electric light bulb. Now candles are relegated to the utility draw where they wait, unused and unloved until a birthday cake comes along or a blackout or a romantic dinner for two.
Sadly, the advent of e-readers like the Kindle is going to do to books what the light bulb did to candles. Books may not become collectors’ items for a generation or two yet, but we can see the demise of the mass market paperback already in the sales figures coming out of Amazon. Ebook sales are soaring as more and more people like me discover how convenient and cheap ebooks are. In the past I would only buy books written by my favourite authors because here in Australia books can cost up to $30 AUD. Each. That is an investment not an impulse buy. With my Kindle though I can buy an ebook by an unknown author for as little as 0.99c.
And this brings me to the meaning of my title – I have downloaded 20 ebooks in the last month thanks to Kindle power. Of that first 20 I have read 19. I will probably never finish that last unread book because it was not well written and annoyed me. In the past I would have agonized over wasting the price of a book but now I can happily move on to the next promising story because none of them cost more than the price of one decent latte.
Cost is not the only benefit of ebooks though; freedom to explore is just as important. In the last month I have discovered some wonderful new writers – Mary Robinette Kowal, Candy Korman, Lord David Prosser, Stephen Faulds – many of whom are self-published indie authors whose books never appear on the shelves of traditional bookshops. Without ebooks I would never have discovered them. For that alone my Kindle has been worth the investment but it has other, less obvious benefits as well. I’m getting horribly short-sighted so the ability to adjust the font is a god send. Now I can read in comfort without having to wear those horrible reading glasses that make the world swim whenever you look up from the page. Another benefit is that I can sling my Kindle in my bag and take it with me wherever I go – without feeling as if I’m carrying a brick in my bag!
I still love the look and feel of real books and I always will but in the future I will be choosing the ones I want to own and keep in a very different way. Instead of browsing the shelves of bookshops and taking a punt on a book that ‘looks interesting’ I will be reading the ebook version first. If it lives up to expectations and is a ‘keeper’ then I will buy the hard copy version and give it a home on my own bookshelves. That is the power of the ebook. That is the power of my Kindle.
Something is always lost when new technology comes along so I feel sad to think that my great, great, grandchildren may only see paper books in museums but it’s always better to swim with the tide than to drown trying to swim against it. Vive le livrel!