Burn the Kindles!

<p>I write this sitting on the back of a dustcart as I head home from the two Canongate parties (one hosted by the &quot;good man Jamie&quot;, the other by the &quot;scoundrel Byng&quot;) in time to bleach my soul white again and head to the final day of the fair.</p>
<p>After the Orange breakfast, disappointingly not sponsored by Terry&rsquo;s Chocolate Orange, I looked over the railings of Earls Court 1 and mused about what would happen if the ash kept on falling and this truly was publishing&rsquo;s Pompeii. In years to come Earls Court would be excavated by archaeologists and they would try to piece together our society from the clues we had left behind. They would see tables of people pouring over rectangular lumps of fossilised paper while gesticulating wildly, rows of shrine-like structures adorned with iconic pictures of authors and a god-like Christopher Little being held aloft by the lesser agents. They might think they had stumbled on some weird cult. And in some ways they wouldn&rsquo;t be wrong.</p>
<p>I stepped downstairs to mingle with the plebs once more and was thrilled to see the Blitz spirit taking hold. Richard Charkin was burning books to keep warm, Vicky Barnsley was leading a group of editors in a chorus of &quot;Ashes To Ashes&quot; and publishers were being roused by Gail Rebuck wearing a &quot;Keep Calm and Carry On&quot; T-shirt and demonstrating Jamie Oliver&rsquo;s corned beef Pass It On recipes.</p>
<p>After an hour playing leapfrog in the IRC, I went in search of a last-minute addition to the seminar programme, Allen Carr&rsquo;s &quot;How To Stop Eyjafjallajokull Smoking&quot;. I found myself by mistake in a seminar about the digital future of books. Digi-geek 2.0 in a polyester suit and Converse trainers was spouting forth to a bored crowd: &quot;Picture it: multilingual virtual libraries, Kindles in every womb, wifi in every cemetery. E-volution not Re-volution.&quot; &quot;Yeah well, picture this: your head rammed through a wall,&quot; the man next to me muttered. &quot;Ssh, do you mind, I&rsquo;m trying to play Scrabulous on Facebook,&quot; said a woman on her iPhone in the row behind. I looked around at a group of broken, disinterested publishers and agents. So when Digi-geek 2.0 finally said: &quot;Any questions?&quot; I leapt to my feet.</p>
<p>I grabbed the microphone. &quot;Don&rsquo;t let them tell you that the only choice is between Kindles and Sony e-Readers! Trust your instincts, support books&mdash;the ones printed on paper. And sold in shops!&quot; I shrieked. After a breathless hush, the crowd started to roar and swept me up, holding me aloft like Ian Charleson in Chariots of Fire. &quot;I stand for something else&mdash;integrity! Real writers, not random famous people! I say no to slush piles, no to massive discounts, no to volcanoes and yes to free lunches, yes to hardcovers and yes to a literary festival for every town in Britain!&quot;</p>
<p>The crowd went wild, chanting: &quot;Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!&quot; Among the worshipping hordes I caught sight of Alistair Burtenshaw, with tears running down his cheeks. &quot;Daisy,&quot; he said, &quot;you&rsquo;ve saved the day.&quot;</p>