In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction

Tartt's Dilemma

Well, I am not going to buy two copies of Donna Tartt's new book, The Goldfinch, unless I buy one as a present for someone else.

What would you do? Buy the hardback edition (784 pages) for £10.51 from Amazon or the Kindle edition for £9.98, which is all of 53 pence cheaper? In a nutshell, this is Tartt's Dilemma.

So what's the problem? I love books, that's the problem. I love the smell of them, the feel of them, the sight of them lined up on the shelf - all colour and splash. The Goldfinch will be a long read - I am looking forward to it - but in this case the hardback (like most) it is too hefty to tote around and the paperback when it comes out will be no slim volume. Anyway, on this occasion I'm not prepared to hang around for it.

On the other hand I don't have to be the first person in Britain to blog a review so I don't need the download right now. Anyway the initial reviews are already out. I can wait for the post, which will of course be free from Amazon (I think I read somewhere that Amazon actually include a download charge in their Kindle price).

So which to buy? I err on the sumptuousness of the hardback, but then again, there's the convenience of Kindle. But then again, I won't be able to share the book after I've read it. And I hate the thought that when I have read 100 pages, the Kindle will tell me baldly that I have read 13%. On the other hand...

Tartt's Dilemma. And I guess the publisher feels the same. Give the reader a digital download with the hardback and they might only sell one copy instead of two, which takes me back to my top line. No chance.

I am still not sure what to do. This is Tartt's Dilemma.

Then again... I should be supporting my local independent bookshop. That is the author's dilemma.

French Lessons with Donna Tartt

Apart from the fact that it is again going to be really hard to get back into the discipline of writing, what have I learned from my visit to France last week?

  • Normandy is a continuation of Dorset (geologists may tell me I am entirely wrong) and that is no bad thing. I am still capable of writing an ambiguous sentence
  • Red Squirrels abound.
  • Driving on the back roads is like being in the 1950's, but you can go faster and engines are more reliable.
  • My father landed tanks at Utah Beach in WW2 when he was twenty years old. (But he never mentioned it until I said we'd been there - I wish I'd known beforehand. Do fathers ever talk to sons?)
  • Language is not everything - but it helps. A smile goes an awfully long way. It's a myth that the French habitually laugh at the English.
WHAT I REALLY LEARNED is not to be daunted by other writers. Enjoy holiday reading. Come back wanting to write as well as Donna Tartt.
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