Interview with Author Tony Park Pt 2

Tony Park is an author, adventurer and reader of digital books, so I thought I’d interview him to get his unique point of view on the experience. Tony’s currently hooning around somewhere in Africa in his Land Rover, writing his next book and doing the occasional safari, but he was kind enough to take some time out to talk to The Smell of Books. This is Part 2 of the interview. You can read Part 1 here.

Does anything about the experience of reading ebooks annoy you?

There are a couple of things I’d like to see Amazon change on the Kindle. Firstly, I think there should be a ‘blurb’, the back cover summary of what the book’s about, up front when you start the book. Also, there seems to be little easily accessible information about a book, other than reviews by readers, when you actually buy the book online or via wireless. Having said that, I’ve actually found it quite fun to start a new book and not know the first thing about the plot.

Secondly, the Kindle expresses your progress through the book as a percentage of the total book, at the bottom of the page. Honestly, I’d rather know I’m up to page 221 of 663, rather than be told I’m at 33 per cent.

How long have you been reading digitally now? What positives about the experience stand out that you think digital sceptics might not have thought about?

We’ve had our Kindles for about two years now. I’ve found that two of the best things about Kindle that the sceptics probably haven’t thought about are swimming and drinking.

If you’ve just come out of the pool or walked out of the sea and you’re dripping wet and/or covered in sand, you can prop your Kindle a little way away and just reach out with one (dry) finger and turn the pages. You don’t end up with a book whose pages are caked in sand and swollen around the edges from water damage, and you don’t lose your page if the wind picks up.

Same goes for drinking (and eating). It’s a lot easier to turn the pages with a single finger while eating chips and drinking beer than it is to do all that and keep a book balanced on your tummy.

Oh, and another good thing is that you can have several readers on the one Amazon account. This means that both Nicola and I can be reading the same book at the same time, which avoids the fights we’d have over who’s going to read a paper book first.

As an author, do you worry about piracy in a world of easily downloadable books (and devices to read them on)?

Yes, that does concern me. However, it’s a bit like someone telling me that they’ve read one of my books that they borrowed from a friend, or bought at a second hand shop. There’s no money in either of those cases for me, but as an author who’s still relatively new on the scene and hoping to build up my readership I’m just happy that that book is being passed around, so I can get some more exposure. If I was at the other end of the authorly spectrum – selling millions of copies like Wilbur Smith, then I’d probably have too much money to be worried about piracy.

What are you reading now?

Michael Connelly’s The Reversal, on my Kindle, of course. I just finished Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants on Kindle and if I’d had that as a paper book I would have needed to buy a trailer for my Land Rover to transport it.

That’s it, folks, thanks for reading. While you’re waiting for Amazon to ask for Tony’s endorsement of the Kindle (“It’s a lot easier to turn the pages with a single finger while eating chips and drinking beer”), you can read a sample chapter of The Delta here, and if you like it – buy it. His backlist is here. You can visit Tony on the web here.

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Joel Naoum

Joel Naoum is a Sydney-based book editor, publisher, blogger and writer. He is passionate about the possibilities of social media and digital publishing opens up for authors, publishers, booksellers and the whole book industry.

7 thoughts on “Interview with Author Tony Park Pt 2”

  1. Hooah.
    I’ve got ‘Fall of Giants’ on my Kindle too [funny that..] and also bought the paperback copy. Had to take the trailer to the shops to bring it home. so yes Kindle much better.

  2. Great interview Tony! I still haven’t quite decided on the kindle – not sure whether to hold out for a touch screen version (I hope that one will come!). Have you read Ken Follett’s Pillars of the earth (aside from all my Tony park books, I really liked that one)

    1. The Sony Reader is a touchscreen ereader, but I suspect any Kindle touchscreen reader would suffer from the same drawbacks as the Sony. The touchscreen, unfortunately, has to be layed on top of the e-ink screen, so it makes the contrast less sharp and more grey. Not much benefit just to be able to touch the screen to turn the page! If you’re tempted by a dedicated ereader, the new Kindle is definitely the way to go. Have a look at my review for more info.

  3. Joel, I’m a Kindle guy, but your info on the Sony Reader is out of date.

    The latest sony readers (350, 650 & 950) do their touchscreen via infrared sensors on the side of the screen. There’s no overlay, and the contrast is as good as the Kindle’s.

    They are significantly more expensive though.

    1. Very true! I apologise, my info is quite out of date. It appears the screen trade-off issue has indeed been solved. Though I have read that the choice of font on the new Sony Readers still makes the Kindle screens pop a little more – and that font cannot be changed (screen comparison is here). It also doesn’t change the fact that the Sony Reader 350, which is a comparable price to the Kindle 3, doesn’t have any wireless to speak of and has access to a much smaller range of books. All around I’d still recommend the Kindle 3 over the Sony line for dedicated ereaders.

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