A Defence Of Books

Well. The original idea behind this blog was to promote my novels. But it seems to be taking its own direction!

On Wednesday I was delighted to be Freshly Pressed and see my blog appear on the WordPress.com homepage. Honour indeed.

But slightly ironic as my post – about how writers no longer need a reference library – was listed under ‘technology’ rather than tags on writing or publishing.

So, for my 50th post, I want to turn full circle and write a defence of real books: those big, heavy, paper ones that used to rule our lives.

I’m not criticising e-books and the web. Far from it: I can’t imagine life without my browser and my novels, bar one, are currently on Kindle only.

But for writers (and other researchers), I think it’s dangerous to rely on electronic archives. Because much information on the web is too up to date. Sometimes we want to know about opinions and facts from a particular era. Which is when we need to turn to contemporary sources.

I’m the proud owner of a full set of the 10th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica – 35 volumes written and published over the tail end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

They’re wonderful old tomes, full of esoteric knowledge and antiquated opinions. There’s everything from elaborate line drawings showing construction details of European military fortresses to a ‘current’ atlas showing the Persian and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

While doing some research for a job for a UK asthma charity I looked at my encyclopedias and found that back in the 19th century some people still recommended tobacco as a way of alleviating asthma!

Looking for information on Cornwall, I found that in the 1890s the main route into the county – crossing Bodmin Moor – had a reputation as one of the bleakest roads in Great Britain.

A cursory web search would never reveal the kind of information above. Yes, the web is fantastic for finding out modern details such as what bullets former Soviet soldiers are likely to have in their guns (I needed to know for The Vault) but real books can’t be beaten for getting your head into a different era.

Plus, those lovely old burgundy bindings on the Britannica do look beautiful when all lined up on my bookcase.

Extra, Charitable Plug

First: apologies to those who’ve been following this blog for a while and have read this before.

Second: an enormous welcome to all you who’ve discovered me thanks to Freshly Pressed… and would you like a free book for the weekend?!

My most recent novel, The Vault, is being given away on Amazon for the next 3 days (Friday to Sunday) – and it’s published in aid of the disaster relief charity ShelterBox (50% of royalties go to them).

It’s a murder mystery set in a small English town, revolving around young schoolboy Adam Strong and his battles with a group of local yobs. Intertwined are three other strands: dead bodies found in a local lake, an armed attack on the home of a reclusive billionaire and a sex offender on the run.

Obviously, free copies don’t raise any money. But, the more downloads the book gets, the higher this raises its profile on Amazon and actual sales should increase.

So, even if you don’t want to read it, please download a copy! (And spread the word if you can.)

Links are here for Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. You’re also very welcome to buy copies of any of my books at any time!

Thanks, Huw.

PS. No Kindle? No problem – download a free reader for your PC from Amazon – click here.


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9 responses to “A Defence Of Books”

  1. Alastair Savage says :

    Well done on being on Freshly Pressed! You’re right about tobacco and asthma. In fact. there’s a character in David Copperfield who puffs away on his pipe and explains that it’s for his astham. Or maybe it’s a Tale of Two Cities?
    I’m going to blog next week on the ereader, with a slightly different perspective too…

  2. Katie says :

    There’s something I’ll always love about holding an actual book in my hand. I love the internet and e-readers as much as the next technology buff, but nothing beats a book!

  3. Maddie Cochere says :

    Congrats on the Freshly Pressed. I just read the article without knowing, and it was definitely worthy!

  4. nrhatch says :

    This is great:

    “While doing some research for a job for a UK asthma charity I looked at my encyclopedias and found that back in the 19th century some people still recommended tobacco as a way of alleviating asthma!”

    Even back then, the tobacco companies must have had some clout. 😉

    Last night, on Nova, they discussed disection of a 10,000 year old mummy with traces of Lyme disease. And I thought Lyme disease was a recent invention.

    That nugget really doesn’t have much to do with this post, but it popped into my head as I read about the tobacco cure for asthma.

    My most used resource book . . . my dictionary. I reach for it about 50 times a day. It’s faster to me than opening up a new window on the computer.

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