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Warning: You are welcome, but your Kindle is not

1 June 2012

Hay-on-Wye is world renowned for books and bookshops. If you dnn’t believe it, you can read their website.

However, if you attend the Hay Festival of Literature, don’t bring your Kindle.

Ebooks, Kindle, Non-US

74 Comments to “Warning: You are welcome, but your Kindle is not”

  1. Wow. This has rendered me speechless.

  2. “The book is the thing…”

    In other words, literature = paper? And all this time I thought it was about words, ideas, and stories; the sharing of the human experience, not a celebration of the paper-manufacturing process.

    Still, I have to give these folks credit for so enthusiastically embracing their neo-luddite.

    • Yep, they think that if it’s not in paper form, it’s not a book. That’s like the train industry saying that if there are no rails, it’s not travel.

    • Why don’t we all just go to Hay-on-Whye with our eReaders hidden inside a hardback book with the middle cut out? That will really blow their minds!

  3. Some people can’t deal with change.


  4. Best buggy whip festival ever!!!

  5. Well I’m OK then because I don’t have a kindle. I read my ebooks(kindle as well as others)on my phone, my iPad and my netbook.

  6. And, just like that, I’ve officially turned against small bookshops.

  7. Wow. People with arthritis and other physical illnesses that make it hard to manipulate paper books (or even hold them up to read) and who benefit from the lightness and ease of use of e-readers: you’re not welcome at the Hay Festival of Literature. People with vision problems who benefit from the ability of e-readers to have their font size changed and (for some types) to have lighted screens and text-to-speech — you’re not welcome at the Hay Festival of Literature.

    I’ll bet the people running the Hay Festival of Literature think they’re progressive as s*** too.

  8. Perfect advertising strategy! Beautiful! I would have never known these people existed but for their stance on Kindles. As a Nook man I’m comforted by their exclusion and therefore have to endorse banning of Kindles. I can’t address phones, pads, netbooks, laptops or all the other inefficient methods of consuming the “printed word”(sic).

  9. Patricia Sierra

    Am I the only one here who thinks this is satire? Treated harshly … light saber … dumped by the wayside … c’mon.

    • Not according to this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2152657/Hay-literary-festival-booksellers-fight-ban-soulless-Kindles-world-famous-arts-event.html

      Scariest quote: “Books are sociable and people stop and talk to each other about them. Kindles are just a phase and they won’t last. They are our enemy.”

      Most telling quote: “He made his plea yesterday, to mark the start of the 25th Hay Festival – which counts Apple’s iBookstore as an online partner.”

      • Radio thought TV was a phase. How’d that work out for them?

        • Personally I suspect radio will outlast TV, which is likely to be replaced by video on demand for 90% of the first world population in the next few years unless the cable companies manage to cripple the Internet.

      • Lol, who stops to talk about books? Are we some type of big book club going over to aunties to read and then discuss. I read erotica. Wanna hear what Debbie did in Dallas? (Aunty says, “No thanks.”)

      • When there was nothing but books, I read alone and talked to hardly anyone about them, because I read scifi and fantasy and that was “weird.” Now that there is the internet, ebooks, and all the rest of the electronic social media stuff, I’ve gotten engaged in tons of discussions about stories. Except for one time in the fifth grade when a friend and I would get together at lunch and read, mostly this series of children’s biographies of famous people our library at school had, paper books enabled me to be withdrawn and antisocial. I’m still withdrawn and antisocial in meatspace, but “soulless” electronic media like Kindles have made it possible for me to talk to fellow readers and also authors, the latter something I could never even dream of doing when I was a kid.

    • I thought so too. Now, I’m off to read the article.

  10. Andrew Claymore

    ‘The book is the thing”…
    Those futuristic whippersnappers!
    It’s velum scrolls for me!
    How dare they replace my beloved velum scrolls with their fancy new books!

    The scroll is the thing!

    Wait a minute – The STORY is the thing. The message is the message, not the media.

    • [pretend you hear this in Paul F. Thompkins’ snooty voice]

      Vellum? Really? I’ll read stories on papyrii or clay tablets if I must, but I really prefer getting my literature delivered by a blind storyteller in the original Greek

      • Andrew Claymore

        I had to let our shaman go, he was stealing the chicken bones from our garbage. He used to spin a fine hunting yarn.

        • You heartless wretch! What is a shaman supposed to stick in his beard, if you won’t let him have your old chicken bones? ‘The worker is worthy of his hire.’

          Whenever my shaman steals from the garbage, I always give him a good solid cowhiding and then send him back to work. Much more humane than giving him the sack.

          • Andrew Claymore

            Hey, It was in his contract. He’s supposed to bring his own bones from home. Not only that – I recently discovered that the dark square thingy on my wall can display a wide variety of live action stories. He had been unplugging it on a regular basis.

            I never realized how much that lazy shaman was skating by…

        • Philistines! How dare you try to undermine cave paintings and flickering shadows on the wall from the fire!

          • Please! Cave paintings are elitist in the extreme! What about the low income families that can’t afford torches to go see them?

            Now a shaman… everybody can sit around the campsite and watch him cavort and frolic – until the fermented yak’s milk makes him fall in the fire again.

            Gotta admit; that makes for a strong ending to any story!

  11. How entertaining that the old guy thinks he could actually stop someone from reading on their Kindle if they choose to do so. Ridiculous man.

  12. Wow!!
    The pen and quill evolved into the fountain pen. The fountain advanced to become a click-pen. The typewriter turned into the computer. We use to read by candle light however, Edison changed all that. Progress, man, progress …
    Do not fret people, there will always be real books, just not as many.

    The college student will pay a lot less for their books on ebooks.
    I think us old fogies (over fifty) really like our books. I know do. Nevertheless, the new generations are teething on ebooks, and all kinds of new gadgets.
    That’s progress …

    Betsy S.

  13. Although I don’t think it’s a satire, I think Patricia’s question actually hits close to the mark:

    It’s publicity. It’s the same as the “tone” Joe Konrath was talking about on his blog the other day. This is just another form of being loud and obnoxious to get attention.

    And for a dying/threatened business it works the same way bullying works: Bullies always get themselves a small but fiercely loyal audience.

  14. I surprised he mentioned “light saber” and not “pitchfork”.. would be more appropriate..

  15. So, the paper is the thing, not the book. I hope it’s satire, because if they are serious they are lost.

  16. Hay-on-rye is the town with the highest density of bookshops in the country. It also has quite a good publicity department, they often do something unusual or outrageous before their literary festival.

    The daily mail is an ‘aint it awful’ paper, which most of the Hay-on-rye people wouldn’t be seen reading. It is fun to read.

    People should not take this seriously. Especially that last man, who is taking the p***.

    • That was my take on it too.

    • I have to agree. It’s like something the Onion would do; great PR though for the town.

      • If ‘great PR’ = ‘now I’ve actually heard of the place, and have a good reason to avoid going there’, then yeah, it’s great PR.

        • I guess I should have had my sarcasm sticker on.

        • On the other hand if Hay-on-Wye is what I think it is, it’s a commendable attempt to maintain the viability of a small community. There was a movement at least a decade ago to find some hook for smaller communities that would draw people to visit. I believe Hay-on-Wye may have been the model for http://www.buecherstadt.com/de/news/ (Book City) in a small community south of Berlin that was trying to reinvent itself. I was there in 1999 with a group from Bradley University. Consisting exclusively of used and antiquarian booksellers they were trying to build on the Hay-on-Wye experience to bring tourists and vendors to the really amazing bunkers left over from the Nazi era and keep their town afloat. So Hay-on=-ye, which seems to have been quite successful probably figures notoriety can be a good thing given their audience.

  17. So he’s good with destroying private property but props to you, Mr Whippy, for restraining yourself. This time.
    The Euro is going belly up, and digital books are what has their knickers in a knot.

  18. The video covers up the share pop up. 🙁

  19. It would be fun to wander around the festival with a sandwich board that looked like a kindle with “The end is nigh” written on it.

  20. This is so disappointing. It also angers me. I own a Kindle, yet somehow I’m not a proper reader or something? It’s saddening that people feel the need to launch such vitriol at change. Change is what stops us all from dying.

  21. If some enterprising bookstore wanted to grab a different share of the market, they could advertise – “Your e-readers are welcome here!”

  22. Talking about clinging to the past. Thank you so much bookshop owners of Hay-on-Wye for re-enforcing the stereotype of the English as backward looking and generally embarrassing us in front of the other nationalities.

    • Yeap. Although I do think the old guy was trying to crack one.

      Still, he’s got some scary eyes at the end there. Please don’t hurt me, old man. I’ll be good.

  23. Am I the only one who keeps reading it as “Ham-on-Rye?”

    If so, forget I said anything.

  24. The Guardian’s report on this has some witty comments, as well as the usual Luddite stuff (mostly coming from the same guy who always weighs in against eBooks – I suspect he’s a Guardian agent provocateur.)I’ve never been to the Hay on Wye Festival myself, neither as a writer nor as a reader, but its reputation is a little more ‘exclusive’ than our very own Edinburgh Book Festival – so if anyone was going to suggest banning Kindles, even as a publicity stunt – it was going to be a second hand bookseller (doing writers no favours either!) in Hay.

  25. The irony of the old luddite’s last statement on the video: “dumped by the wayside” is that such a fate will soon befall those shops/events/stores who REJECT kindle/other e-reading devices not the other way around! The future is here.

  26. “Kindles are just a phase and they won’t last.”
    hehe CLASSIC.

    I had a Prof back in ’95 (the year the net was commercialized) who actually said: “the internet is just a fad, it will pass”. He’s dead now but that darn internet is still here.

  27. I figure, if people are coming to their town for the literature festival, they’re interested in bound books. It shouldn’t matter that they have a Kindle. Literature in any form is nothing but a good thing, be it on paper, screen, chizeled in stone, or tatooed on one’s back. So these bookstore owners are being very short-sighted, and just plain rude and arrogant. I think their attitude also comes from this fear that screens are going to replace paper, which is bloody stupid. There will always be printed books. It’s just that nowadays, there are more ways to get literature than ever before. It’s a win for everyone, the writers, the readers, and yes, even the book sellers, because they will be able in the near-future to carry, if they play their cards right, an infinitely larger # of books than their brick-and-mortar shelves can contain.

    Just chill, Hay-on-Whye, and celebrate literature in all its forms.

  28. Newsbreak: Archaeologists discover ancient tablets, translation tells of conflict between cultures. The first people to use cuneiform tablets were banned from the annual cave art festival. Film at 11!

    • I remember that little spat.

      Unfortunately for the cave painters, the first people to use cuneiform tablets included a bunch of tax collectors. The cave painters’ grant was cut off shortly thereafter.

      You know, Altamira didn’t use to be underground. Then the cuneiform guys moved it to the basement. Verbum sap.

  29. 1,400 books in one place is NOT welcome!

    The purpose of books is to be as smart as a person from the past, and not any smarter. For example, the possible increase in intelligence of persons with access to 1,400 eBooks in one place.


  30. I love books also, never the less, good writing is good writing no matter how it is presented.

    Hay-on-Wye appears to be unable to adapt to the changing world. Not an uncommon condition. It has got to be a book store and feels threatened by the evil ( HA-HA ) ‘electronic book’.

  31. Hi all,

    I wrote to the folks at the Hay Festival via their website seeking confirmation of the Festival’s anti-Kindle stance. It almost seemed as though the video could have been done tongue-in-cheek. Of course, at that time, I hadn’t read any news articles about this.

    In any case, I wanted to share the reply I received:

    Thank you for your email.

    Please ignore the foolishness on the video. Mr & Mrs Addyman have a couple of bookshops in Hay so I can see they would rather people purchased books rather than people having Kindles.

    I agree in that nothing can replace a good book but for convenience, especially when on holiday when one has to consider baggage weight etc., a Kindle is ideal.

    So please do not let such things prevent you from visiting us here in Hay – I am quite sure it was all done, as you say, tongue in cheek – and bring your Kindle!!
    The email was sent by someone named Pat at Hay Tourism, but I suspect it is the view of the Hay Festival.

    PG, thanks for all your wonderful articles. I look forward to my daily visit to your site. Cheers.

  32. Shirley Burnham

    The emotion of those who have converted to the Kindle or other e-reader is a bit like being confronted by a born-again stranger when one has dared to express an agnostic thought. Whilst not sure why the Festival wants to exclude these devices – there’s no threat to their mass-production, so need to get knickers in such a twist because of it. One little thought on this matter : did you read the following ? I find it worrying, but you may not, viz: E-books can be manipulated at will by purveyors of downloadable software

  33. Do they have enough hitching posts for all the horses? I’m sure motor vehicles are quite unpopular as well. Unsightly for sure.

  34. I understand and appreciate their position. I would much rather see people buy my book Sedna: Goddess of the Sea in book form and then shelve it in their personal libraries for their grandchildren to rediscover decades from now. That will hardly happen if works of art and scholarship are saved on microchips. And all those wonderful marginal notes with family voices lost lost lost.

  35. I say if it’s not chiseled in stone, it’s not really a book. Paper’s too organically impermanent folks! Noobs, sheesh…

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