Date Published: 07-Nov-2012
There was a shocking statistic widely reported in the media the other day; from a staritng start two years ago, Amazon is now selling 114 books for every 100 – hard cover and paperback – sold in print, thanks, obviously, to the popularity of its Kindle.
And while there is an incontrovertible inevitability about the growth of electronic books and devices – and a converse fall-off in printed matter – there would something innately sad about a future without the smell and feel of a book in your hand.
Of course the same threat hangs over newspapers and in many parts of the world that demise is already a reality – but let’s not write the obituaries for the old ways just yet. Because old habits die hard.
And while a Kindle is brilliant in that it allows you to store hundreds of books on a device that weighs less than a magazine, there is still something cold and uncomfortable about the process of reading words in a parallel universe.
More to the point, if your library is stored on a device that you would fit in your pocket, what will you put on the book shelves at home? How will you pass on the joy of a good book to a friend? How will your children discover the thrill of a book their parents had loved years before them?
You’ll build up an electronic library that may eventually run to hundreds, if not thousands, of books – and yet, how many of them will you re-read, as you would when you casually browse through the shelves in the sitting room?
There is a feel and a smell of a book that will never be replicated on a Kindle – and that’s not to dismiss its obvious merits.
The arrival of ebooks has allowed new writers to get their work to a wide audience cheaper and quicker than ever before – and occasionally you have a success story like Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, which sold two million copies in just four months.
They can also be cheaper than the printed version – not least because you will save on the cost of printing and paper – although that’s not a given; for those who looked to download the new JK Rowling novel, Kindle would charge $21.99 while selected book stores here are still selling it at €12.99.
But this isn’t just about price; at the core of the Kindle’s success is the fact that, if you’re a regular traveller, you can have a selection of books and magazines on your reader or iPad; you can fit all the reading material you might ever need into the front pocket of your hold-all.
You can download new publications without leaving your seat; you can buy books in the middle of the night if you’re an insomniac.
But do you ever actually possess a book that only exists in theory?
Where is the note that someone put inside the front cover when they gave it to you as a present?
Where are the little nicks and tears that indicate a well-thumbed novel – or the splintered spine that is less a sign of carelessness and more a sign of real appreciation?
When you go, your library goes with you. There will be no carve-up of your books – or indeed your albums, because they too only exist in theory in their electronic format – and that also deprives others of the chance to know you a little better.
What becomes of the public library – presuming, in fairness, they survive the incessant cuts to state services – where people gather to share an appreciation of good books?
There is a whole build-up of expectation in buying a book; going into a bookstore, looking through the shelves, leafing through the new arrivals or the classics, and heading to the till with a little piece of heaven in your hand.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr
Date Published: 23-Jan-2013
Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup
Date Published: 29-Jan-2013
Athenry FC 1
Kilbarrack United 2
(After extra time)
For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.
On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.
An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.
However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.
They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.
With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.
Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.
Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.
Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.