Sunday, July 18, 2010

Do I love Switzerland?

BERN -- Start with practicalities, say the transit system. Nothing but gorgeous, hi-tech trams, two or three cars long, bright red, zooming along on schedule to the minute. To the minute! This is the clockwork efficiency you hear so much about. And, okay, what about those public toilets? I am mortified to imagine what the Swiss must think when they go into a urinal at a Canadian railway station, or even at an airport. These places are CLEAN. SPARKLING CLEAN, like they are in your own home and you have guests coming over. The level of maintenance of all things Swiss is impressive, even astonishing. I mean, many of these houses and buildings date from the sixteen or seventeen hundreds, and yet here they stand, erect, entirely usable, fully functioning. In Switzerland, too, as elsewhere in Europe, you can't miss the history . . . . and, indeed, the respect for all things cultural: artists, writers, intellectuals. Respect and, yes, even reverence. Go figure. As for beggars in the street, if you hunt really, really hard, maybe you can find one. In this country, somehow, they keep people from falling fall through the cracks. Do I love Switzerland?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Um, does the author ever get paid?

A recent story in the London Free Press shows why authors are wondering about the way ebooks are rolling into libraries. The future is now, the story tells us, and more and folks are "taking out books electronically, downloading titles from the comfort of their own computers."
At the London Public Library, which is just an example of a trend, the use of ebooks is growing exponentially, with more than 1,000 titles in the electronic catalogue, a number that may very well double in the next year.