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Jan. 16 2013

A Blow to my Book Collection?

By Dyana Neal | Posted in Host Blogs | No Comments

With much trepidation, I bought my first e-book yesterday. I’ve read plenty of articles online over the years, but how was I going to feel about reading an entire book (270 pages!) on a little handheld device?

Well, I’m currently 202 pages in.

It doesn’t hurt that the book in question, Blow by Blow, is fascinating. Written by Detmar Blow, it’s the story of the turbulent life and career of his wife, the late Isabella Blow. Ms. Blow was born Isabella Delves Broughton, daughter of a noble British family, yet despite her “blue” blood, she wasn’t especially well off, at least by comparison with some of her contemporaries. Still, she had social connections and tremendous natural talent, both of which helped her land numerous coveted jobs in the fashion industry. At American Vogue, she worked as assistant to both Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley; back in her native England, she held important positions at both Tatler and the Sunday Times. Ms. Blow helped launch the careers of the well-known designers Philip Treacy and Alexander McQueen as well as models Stella Tennant and Sophie Dahl. Glamorous as all of this sounds,  financial success and personal fulfillment eluded Ms. Blow, and she ended her life in 2007.

isabella blow

I have a love-hate relationship with fashion and the industry around it. Blow by Blow, for me, is not only an affectionate, yet realistic portrait of a very gifted, deeply troubled woman; it’s a very honest look at the fashion biz – the creativity is there, but so is the cruelty.

So, what will I read next, and will it be an e-book or a traditional book? The next meeting of my book club is this Friday, and the club’s selection will, of necessity, influence my next book purchase. I downloaded Les Miserables – free! – last night, but I doubt the other ladies of my book club will want to tackle a 900-plus page “classic” novel, unless we somehow break its discussion up into two or three meetings. Sorry, Victor Hugo, you’ll probably have to wait until my next vacation.

I doubt that e-books will ever completely replace traditional ones in my personal library. Jim and I still like to browse thrift stores and yard sales, which are great sources of inexpensive used books. We like supporting brick and mortar bookstores, too. Also, sometimes the books one is after aren’t available in electronic format – that was the case with Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Gourmet Rhapsody, both of which I’ve recently read and highly recommend. The biggest advantages I’ve seen with e-books thus far are instant gratification – it took, at most, a couple of minutes for Blow by Blow to download from the seller’s website to my tablet – and cost: the book set me back $7.99, half the retail price. The financial advantage may, at some point, be negated by the instant gratification factor – as we’ve seen above, I read fast! For me, at least,  e-reading is just one more way to enjoy the printed word.

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Dyana Neal

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Dyana is WBJC's midday host. Her full bio can be read here.

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