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Happy Christmas from the Happy Depressive

Posted on 24 December 2011 | 4:12pm

Just arrived in the very wild and wet Scottish Highlands, to be told by all and sundry that ‘this is nothing’ compared with the wetness and wildness of a couple of weeks ago. It is however beautiful as ever.

Meanwhile, in an act that even I consider to be a tad close to heathen-ness, I am mugging up on ebooks and preparing to do a bit of commercial tweeting tomorrow. I really feel I shouldn’t, but Dan the Man from the publishers says that truly I must.

Digital Dan as he is known is Random House’s ebook expert and, rather nervously, I am preparing for the launch of my first ebook next month. It is called The Happy Depressive, and takes a look at happiness both from the personal perspective – me being a depressive, but one who is actually fairly happy – and also from the political perspective, what with David Cameron, President Sarkozy and other world leaders focused on the rather big question of whether politics can deliver well-being and contentment.

I recorded the audiobook the other day, at the end of which one of the three people who listened to the recording said she was surprised how ‘calm and balanced’ I was about Cameron. So I hope I am not going soft in my old age. But it is true that I am prepared to take at face value his commitment to add happiness to the list of factors policymakers have to take into account. Particularly with mental health services under pressure, I will also do my bit to make sure he sticks to his word.

But more of that anon. More too of my assessment of my own happiness, and my various theories of happiness – like we can’t really assess whether we have lived happy lives till we near the end – a view reinforced by my witnessing of the death of my closest friend in politics, Philip Gould, last month.

Anyway, enough of all that, I can hear Digital Dan whispering in my ear ‘don’t tell them too much, just tell them they can pre-order from tomorrow.’ This is the heathen bit. Though I don’t do God, I still feel that Christmas Day should not be for selling, but DD is adamant that Christmas Day, after people have unwrapped their iPads, kindles and other assorted destroyers of the book trade, is THE big day for ebook sales. So despite my squeamishness, I will be tweeting links some time tomorrow afternoon.

The Happy Depressive is only 15000 words or so, and part of the Random House Brain Shots series, so perhaps the ebook format is the right one. But I still find it hard to imagine a book without paper. Dan tells me ebooks now account for 11 percent of Random House sales in the UK and in the States it is twice as much.There has been a 500 percent year on year increase in sales. It’s the future stupid.

Amazon has about 85 percent of the ebook market – which is why theirs will be one of the links up tomorrow – with Apple, Kobo, Google, Waterstones and a few smaller players competing for the rest. Most people consume ebooks on Kindles, iPads, iPhones or Kobo reader devices. And Dan says that for anyone like me, who doesn’t yet get this brave new world, the easiest thing is to download the Kindle PC desktop reader.

There, I have now used up all my ebook knowledge. But I must say I am very happy with my ebook on happiness, and hope that some of you will pre-order it tomorrow as part of your Happy, if too commercial, Christmas too.

Happy Christmas.

  • Shirley Davis

    Well, Alastair, I do ‘do God’ but still think Christmas is so commercialised now tat The Day itself was always going to go that way! My 2 lads worked in retail when young – on still runs a coffee shop. Just one day off!

    So all the VERY best to you in this venture – but do ‘do Christmas’ with the family for part of The Day – please!

  • Something else to go on the Kindle list – bit hard to sign an ebook though Mr C ūüėȬ†

  • I look forward very much to reading this.
    The title makes even somber me smile so thank you and well done.
    Thank you for your blog throughout this year – I wish you every kind thought.

  • Ehtch

    Digital Dan reminds me of someone I used to know, he was called Dan the Bob – he was always trying to make a shilling bob, any time of any day, 24/7 as the yanks say.

    But be thankful to be possessed of a depressive tendent mind Alastair – must be truelly awful to be upbeat and happy all the time for those certain people, missing out on feelings from the barbed edge of life, knocking¬†one’s privileged¬†sideways as if you’re on a ninteenth century ship trying to round the Cape Horn on the way to Frisco to deliver a load of lambs, or something.

    And the best time to visit the hidden depths of the highlands of Scotland is now, rather than other times of the year, what with those pesky bleeding midges trying to have you for dinner at all hours of the day. Flipping gnats!

  • Libdem

    Have a good Christmas Alastair and ‘invest’ some of your wealth in a Kindle, one of the best recent inventions! I’ll be able to read some Ken Follett in between reading yours!

  • Many thanks for your advocacy of mental health issues. Your profile has done so much to raise the esteem of many and given them hope.

    Have a great new year and seasons greetings

  • Viviane

    Happy Xmas from sunny Sydney.¬† You’ll be interested to know that you were mentioned in St Andrews Cathedral (Anglican) written Xmas message¬†as an example of someone who doesn’t do God.¬† No name though – only “Tony Blair’s atheist press secretary”.¬† They wrote that as though it was a bad thing!

  • David Sindall

    Happy Xmas Alistair! Hope you get all you want for Xmas and maximum points for Burnley. Only 4 season until a Tranmere v Burnley Champions League final!

  • Ehtch

    Alastair, oh yes, Happy Xmas and all that by the way, the most brilliant clip of Dylan just found in storming ellequence and storm, when on one of his visits to the “great” US of A. Thought I would post it on your front page blog threaded xmas given jumper, for ones to click in your¬†present days vistors, without frakinsence etc.. Very funny and snaps Dylan’s humour, like a modern mobile phone camera, perfectly,

    Happy boxing day Alastair – if you are near a telly/computer, have a look at a ruuger match tomorrow, Scarlets vee Ospreys, ground sellout. Should be tasty, say no more, should be more claret than Turf Moor… : )

  • Olli Issakainen

    I had a very Happy Christmas with traditional visit to sauna, traditional Finnish Christmas food etc. We even finally got enough snow on the Christmas Eve.
    I have been telling for years that Scotland will become independent. Now there will be a referendum on Scottish independence by 2016.
    The majority now support the independence.
    Scottish independence will be a major politicial issue in the future.
    As for happiness, I do not think we should target personal happiness as our number one goal in life. You can only be happy if you do not try to find happiness.
    I think we should try to help others and find God. That is objective big enough for one lifetime.
    I have said before that happy people do not make history. Anyway, we need more than selfishness in this life.

  • Anonymous

    Btw Olli, you are quoted in The Happy Depressive. Happy Xmas

  • Ehtch

    Well I am happy now, Scarlets thrashed those Swansea and valley poshoes, bonus point for them denied, 22-14. And it was good to see a packed house, to the rafters, in West Wales, all of almost fifteen thousand, and only about half a pint of claret spilled,

  • Anonymous

    Alastair I was going to say I hope you got an economics primer for christmas, but then maybe thats not a thing to induce happiness!

    In seriousness though, thanks for your honesty about mental illness and your work to help the sufferers. I have a relative who found your speaking out to be a great consolation in dark times

  • Looking forward to it… I also am really impressed by the way you take on this subject. Depression has greatly effected someone in my close family and I know its a topic that still has allot of stigma. I will be sure to pre-oder tomorrow.¬†


  • Michele

    Those without kindles or kodos might be interested to know Amazon offers e-book software for PCs! 
    Exclamation mark could be redundant as I might be the only person that hasn’t known about this before if it’s not a new function.¬†
    For those similarly ignorant ….. it can be downloaded free from their page for the item.¬†
    I’ve not managed to do it yet as am hopeless with these things but it has received the Norton (gloom) seal of approval.

  • Michele