It’s been just 10 years since Amazon sold its first Kindle reader devices and the market for ebooks exploded. Not that there weren’t ebooks before that. The Palm series of personal digital assistants (PDAs) made ebooks possible as early as 2002, and my own experience with them goes back that far. There are a number of writers – Lee Child is one – that I have only ever read in ebook form. These days, I have hundreds of books in digital form, and the main disadvantage with them is recalling which reading platform (mainly iBooks, Kindle or KOBO) they are stored under. One of the advantages, with Amazon, at least, is the creation of what might be seen as a new form of chapbook, which, in printed form, was a very early type of popular literature.

Mussolini’s Arctic Airship By Eva Holland Kindle Edition Print Length: 45 pages Kindle Single Amazon Digital Services

Yukon author Eva Holland has taken advantage of Amazon’s Kindle Singles format to produce what might have been a 45-page volume about the early history of Arctic exploration. The Italian airship, Italia, managed to reach the North Pole successfully in 1928, but ran into trouble on its way home and crashed on the Arctic pack ice. The expedition was led by General Umberto Nobile, who survived and was rescued, along with eight other members of his crew.

Nobile had a troubled relationship with Roald Amundsen, the first man to sail the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole. He had been a partner on one of Amundsen’s later expeditions and each blamed the other for the generally poor showing of that particular expedition.

No one really knows why Amundsen decided to mount an expedition to rescue Nobile. Was it truly a humanitarian urge or a desire to show up his younger rival? At any rate, the rescue mission was unsuccessful and no one knows, to this day, just what happened to his plane, a Latham floatplane. It was seen by observers to fly into a thick fog bank and nothing was ever seen of it again save for a single airplane pontoon found floating some time later.

Nobile and some of his men were rescued by others, while the Italia, and those who had remained trapped on the airship, were never seen again.

During the Authors on Eighth walk along our Writer’s Block in August, as part of the annual Discovery Days events, Holland read a chapter from her Kindle ebook to an audience of some 25 or 30 outside Berton House, where she spent a short residency last summer.

It was exciting enough to encourage me to pick up the ebook and take it along during our vacation trip.

That’s another advantage of ebooks. They take up no space at all when you’re packing to travel.