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Back from the dead


IT FINALLY HAPPENED. After nine months of not opening a real, dead-tree book, MacOldie finally succumbed to the lure of a book review in last Sunday's press. "It's Paradise: My Life in North Korea" by Hyok Kang is an intriguing glimpse of everyday life in the socialist paradise presided over by the world's only dead head of state, Kim Il-Sung who popped his clogs in 1994. Now this is a book that is unlikely to appear in electronic form in the near future and it was not to be resisted. Yet it highlights the fundamental problem with the current ebook market: limited choice. 

Over the past nine months MacOldie has been ferreting around among Waterstones' limited ebook library and has been kept more or less fully entertained. But some publishers are entirely missing, some authors are absent and unlikely to appear. To add insult, most of the ebooks are more expensive than the paper versions sitting in the bookshops or advertised on the same web site.

This has to change, and it will change. Just look at the music market. CDs are on their last gasp and downloading of music is now the norm. So it will be with books and newspapers; it's just a matter of time. 

While we are waiting, here's an entertaining example of a maths conundrum from a North Korean textbook. This educational tome is definitely not available in ebook format:

"The people's army, after a battle against the armies of the American imperialist dogs and the South Korean puppets, took 15,130 soldiers prisoner. Among them were 1,130 more American bastards than South Korean puppets. How many American dogs and South Korean puppets were there?

Answers on a postcard, please, to Respected Great Leader and Head of State, Kim Il-Sung Deceased, c/o Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il, Pyongyang. Get it in quick because the Dear Leader himself is preparing to join the Great Leader in celestial retirement. Swiss-educated designated successor Kim Jong-Un would no doubt know the answer already.


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