It is a month now since we ‘launched’, at least in a vaporific kind of way, The Hedgehog Poetry Press, and it has been a lot of things and we have spoken to a multitude of people, which has been on the whole informative if confusing.
In many ways it has felt like a series of questions or tasks to be answered, which luckily far-too-many-nights playing ‘Twin Kingdom Valley’ on an Acorn Electron back in the ’80s has left me fully prepared to cope with.
Apart from perhaps if I get stuck in ‘Watersmeet’ with no sign of a raft, but that is just something for my therapist to worry about these days, not thee.
As for the present, the issue on the table today that we are-a-pondering is going under the heading of ‘formats’ and is all about our magazine, ‘Arfur.’
And it is really eBooks that are the issue. On one hand I love the fact that I can walk around with a hundred novels to work my way through on a Kindle, I’ve had one for aeons now and I honestly couldn’t do without it, but however much of a Luddite it makes me, I can’t help but feel that poetry works better on paper. It isn’t just the fact that the format changes on an eBook – I realise PDFs get you past that – but I think it comes down to the fact that I read poetry in a different way to prose. Prose I eat by the pound, poetry is gastro-porn, it needs air and light around it so that it can creep off the page and into your brain like a wiggly worm.
But that is just me, I realise that, and whilst I would be happiest if ‘Arfur’ was only produced on Vegan-Society-approved ersatz calfskin, I realise that some people like paperbacks and others like eBooks and some like hardbacks too. Hardbacks with beautifully finished dust jackets, paisley-printed end-papers, cloth bound books with gold leaf embossed hedgehogs, casebound beauties that line-up perfectly on their shelves with little patterns that you only really notice when you have a good selection to ponder over as a group…
So what to do?
On one hand I know we should ‘keep it simple stoopid.’
A paperback is good enough and a fabulously produced paperback is a wonder of the world, both ancient and modern and if there is an eBook for the gentlest of modern folk, well it is hardly the science of upwards projectile firing.
In fact, I think eBooks should come free with paper ones, but that is something else entirely (apart from it isn’t.) In fact, eBooks to me are convenience food, if I’m buying a book or a magazine, I want to be able to hold the thing, I want to put it on a shelf, or in a pile, leave it in the glovebox of my car or lend it to somebody, or give it away via BookMooch or to a charity shop or leave it on a bus or in a waiting room. I want to put photos between the pages as bookmarks and forget about them until years later when I open the book again and memories flutter out at me, or maybe even the great-grandchildren I’ll never have met, who knows.
So there we are, as clear as mud, but I started writing this in the hope of coming to a conclusive decision, so I’ll do just that. I like to pronounce, pronouncements make you do things.
Therefore, we are pleased to say that:
‘A Restricted View From Under The Hedge’ will be made available both as a printed artefact and as an eBook, and whichever version you buy (or are given if you have your work ‘tween the covers) you will always get the other one free of charge. It will be the same when we publish books too.
There, that wasn’t so hard after all.