Books & coffee | Courtesy: xRrinei Deviantart
Books & coffee | Courtesy: xRrinei Deviantart

I read recently that book café culture is taking root in India. This is wonderful news for both book lovers and coffee lovers alike. As someone who is fond of that amazing smell of old books, I feel that while it is coffee that makes it possible to get out of bed in the morning, it is books that make it worthwhile. So a book café would be a wonderful place to browse through books and meet up with fellow bookworms over a hot cup of coffee!

What can I say about books that has not been said already? Books are our best friends in the quest for knowledge and our loyal companions in the journey of life. They take us places when we are stuck in the rut and help us expand our imagination. From a sassy beach read to vast academic tomes, books can cater to any mood, any whim and fancy of the reader! Books are a must for developing one’s language and learning skills right from early childhood. Reading is an activity that helps you bond with your child, spend some quiet time by yourself, know more about a given subject, connect with like-minded people and do so much more….

I would choose reading a book over watching TV or a movie any day! When we read, the story unravels in our head – in our imagination. This is probably the reason why most of us find the book is always better than its movie adaptation. Take the case of “The Godfather”. The Hollywood movie was a classic in its own right, but even then we said “not bad, but the book was better!” Or look at the movie adaptation of John Grisham’s “The Firm”. Although Tom Cruise did justice to Mitchell McDeere, we came out thinking that the book won hands down!

Books vs. ebooks | Courtesy:
Books vs. ebooks | Courtesy:

I can give you an endless list beginning with Pride & Prejudice and going on to The Devil Wears Prada, Water for Elephants, Eat, Pray, Love, The Twilight Saga, The Confessions of a Shopaholic; and of course, the much acclaimed Harry Potter series! The actors do their bit, no doubt, but what I am impressed with is the thought process of the characters and their feelings that is better conveyed by a book.

Today we live in an age where digital technology has taken over every aspect of our lives. Right from daily news to dinner recipes, we are increasingly depending on it so much that even books have not been spared. Today, like everything else is ‘e’, so we have “e-books”. With a variety of e-Readers and numerous software apps available across mobile platforms to download and read ebooks, today’s younger generation doesn’t even read the real thing. Some also argue that ebooks are easier and much lighter to carry with you when you are travelling or shifting homes. Be that as it may, but print books are here to stay!

Way back in 1920s, audio books were first introduced in the UK in the form of gramophone discs to help the blind. Since then they were subsequently available in the form of audio cassettes, CDs, and in MP3 formats. These audio books caught on like fire as it was far easier to listen to a book while driving or performing some mundane activity than actually read a book. So, there was talk that audio books will take over the market, but printed books braved this onslaught and stood tall.

Later with the advent of the internet, they were threatened once again by e-books. Although the Sony Librie was the first ebook reader in 2004 using electronic paper, their popularity soared when Amazon introduced its ebook reader Kindle (affiliate link) in 2007. These eReaders validated ebooks and people began to think once again that this was the end of the line for print books. However, printed books stand strong even today and here’s why:

You can never match the tactile pleasure of a real book with an electronic version. You can curl up on a big rocker and cosy up with a book…well even with an e-book, but then, a book will not run out of battery or ask you for an upgrade! It will also not ask you to be downloaded separately for each different platform on which you intend to read it (eReader, phone, laptop, etc); and pay for each download separately.

Books & coffee Cha Bar in Oxford Bookstores
Cha Bar in Oxford Bookstores

The real book will let you take it out on a vacation and it would be okay if you left it behind or spilled your drink on it. A real book will give you the pleasure of seeing it on your shelf once in a while, and reminding about the story, when you read it and who gave it to you. A real book will not have to be switched off during take-off and landing on an airplane! And finally, the one thing that really goes in favour of a physical book is that you can own a real book signed by its author! So, e-books, much like audio books, are more of a compliment than a substitute to real books.

There is something about the smell, the feel of books, and the anticipation when you open a new book, which keeps pulling me to the library, book cafés and book stores again and again. So, let’s bring on more such book cafés. Be it the Oxford Bookstore’s Cha Bar with its branches all over India or be it the local circulating library adorned with book shelves, just give me a good book and a cosy nook and all will be right with the world again!

Factfile –

Rashmi Raj
An avid reader, a writer and a painter disguised as a mother and a lawyer-that’s Rashmi in a nutshell. Born and brought up in the vibrant city of Mumbai she inherited the ever ambitious and eternally optimistic spirit of the vivacious city. Belonging to today’s modern world and yet deeply rooted in Indian culture and traditions, she grew up on a steady diet of books, songs, movies and family get-togethers. She believes that life is what we make of it and we should be able to take everything that comes our way with a smile on our face and gratitude in our hearts.
  • Love reading. And I absolutely love how well this article talks about the evolution of books and reading.

    • Rashmi Raj

      Thanks Devangini. Good to find someone who loves books as much as I do… Happy Reading!

  • Shabdankita

    Wow!!! Well said and completely agree… Ebooks complement and not substitute real books! I love the smell of a new book … Looking at the real books on your shelf is like looking at your trophies or medals…. You feel ,remember and relive the moment the book was bought or when someone gave it !!!

    • Rashmi Raj

      Thank you Shabdankita…though the convenience of ebooks cannot be denied, a book lover, am sure will always prefer the real thing 🙂

  • Shashank

    My thoughts exactly!

    • Rashmi Raj

      Thank you Shashank….appreciate it!

  • Love books, but also love E-books. For my audience in Mexico, e-books are almost a must because of the high cost of shopping. Plus retired people frequently don’t have room for libraries.
    A few just want a paparback because they know me. In the US, it is much easier to order paperbacks.

    At preent I have A MEXICAN SONATA on sale, English only. Arriving soon are Hilton Head and The ICU.

    Churchill (female)

  • saba sagheer

    very well written…….good to see so many people of same taste.

    • Rashmi

      Thanks Saba….happy to know the world has so many book lovers!

  • You might like snuggling up to one of my books–
    A MEXICAN SONATA, HILTON HEAD, and coming soon, THE ICU.

  • Hey Rashmi,
    Very nicely penned thoughts..really loved the research done and kudos to your writing..

    U rock as usual..

    • Caleidoscope

      Thanks for reading Kavitha.