Is the Handle Cool Enough?

Concerned at the fate of our libraries, author Tara West takes a satirical swipe at new reader habits

There is some debate about the origin of the latest book-reading tool, the Handle. Some say it was the brainchild of a burnt-out software designer, concerned for the welfare of our souls. Others say it grew out of small-scale big-brand boycott in a Greenwich Village apartment block. More than a few suggest that no matter how hot or cool its origins, it can’t compare with the Kindle.

The Handle is breathtakingly simple. Instead of buying a Kindle for £111 from Amazon, and paying an average of £6.47 to download a book (price based on internet research), you join a real live library, and they lend you the Handle of your choice.

You can even request specific Handles and they will source them, buy them and lend them to you - for free! The devices have actual, tangible covers and pages (which you ‘handle’), but most weigh around the same as a Kindle.

Say you read an average 20 books per year. If you have a Kindle, that’s an initial outlay of £111, plus 20 x 6.47p, which totals £240.40. £4.62 a day, or thereabouts. But with the Handle, your entire year’s reading is free. That’s 0p per day. Is that value for money? Going by the numbers of people buying Kindles and abandoning traditional libraries, I guess not.

Presumably, if you pay for enlightenment, it is better quality enlightenment than if it is free. Use a Kindle and your doors of perception will be cleansed and opened by a troupe of Oompah Loompahs riding lions. Your doors will be fancier, with brass knobs, a PVC frame and a plaque with your name on it, and you will glide through on a Segway and a perfumed breeze.

However, if you’re more concerned with what’s going on beyond the doors, then the Handle is for you. It has the potential to change your perspective, and your life, and it costs you nothing. You can drop it in the bath and take it with you when you are marooned on a desert island. It can be dried on a radiator and it will never need recharged. You can give it to a child and teach them the difference between value and values.

If you feel that the power of a book lies in how cool you look when you’re reading it, you might be interested in another new reading tool I’ve just invented: the Swindle. Just email me your bank details and I’ll send you some books I’ve spun out of magic thread. You’ll look supercool when you’re reading it and I swear, it will blow the bloody doors off perception.