Reading is a fascinating pastime. While reading a book you enter a completely different world. I must confess that I was never an avid reader since books did not attract me much. Despite being a writer, I avoided holding onto a book until I completely read it till the end. Maybe I am impatient. However, my mindset completely changed when someone introduced me to a new concept called “e-book”. Since then, I just can’t get over it! Today, there is a raging debate about the utility of traditional printed books and e-books. People are extremely divided about which is the best medium that conveys the message across effectively. I feel the e-book appeals to me due to its simplicity, which has made me an avid reader. The biggest advantage of an e-book is that one doesn’t need to be a tech-savvy person. Anyone can operate it and it can be read just like any other physical book. A variety of e-book readers (affiliate link) and tablets are available in the market with a wide range of features. To begin with, you don’t have to carry a heavy book with you and strain your fingers for holding it. Instead, carry just an e-book reader and read wherever or whenever you want. When I am reading a large novel, I often forgot which page I was on, but with an e-book reader, I don’t have to worry since it remembers the page! Second, more physical books mean more papers used for printing them, which in turn means chopping down more trees. By opting for an e-book, I am not only having a comfortable reading experience, but also helping in tree conservation.
A friend of mine, Pranav Shah has been an avid reader since his childhood. With the arrival of e-books, reading has become so much more convenient that he is now addicted to it. Earlier, while purchasing a book, Pranav had to ensure that the copy is original or not. Even after buying a good copy, sometimes the prints were so small in size or smudgy, that he faced difficulty in reading them. But with e-books, he is relaxed. Pranav says, “Buying books has become so easy on the web. When I used to purchase printed versions, I had to visit a few shops until I found that particular book. This was not only a wasteful exercise, but I also used to end up wasting petrol. In contrast, purchasing an e-book is simple… Just log on to a website, select a book, see the contents and purchase it on spot. I get the book instantly without any problem and that too at a reasonable price. I don’t have to wait for the book to be available in the market or posted directly to me. The easy accessibility to e-books has made it easy for avid readers like us to select them.
Another friend of mine, Eduardo Ferrera loves e-books for their extended features. Since Eduardo travels in public transport, reading a printed book becomes troublesome sometimes. However, he finds it very easy to hold an e-book reader device in one hand, while managing his bag on another. Further, when he is travelling long distance, he carries his e-book reader. He says, “There are few passengers who sleep early while travelling long distance. When I used to carry a printed book, I used to face difficulty as the lights go off soon. But, e-book devices have a feature wherein I can read book in low light, without disturbing my fellow passengers.” Meanwhile, a rational friend of mine, Levine Lawrence has a different take on it. Levine says “I really can’t understand the logic given by some people in favour of real books. They say…
- It feels so nice to touch and feel a paperback…
- That amazing smell of old books is so endearing
- The anticipation while opening a crisp new book
- The memories of the person who gifted you the book
- Real book with an actual signature of the author
Are these logical explanations for using a particular medium or just mushy feelings? he asks. Yes, I agree there is tactile pleasure of holding a real book, but let’s understand the real purpose of printing a book; it is to tell a story in the most appealing manner and convey the message to its reader. Any media can be used to tell a story… Take the classical example of mythological epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata. They were passed onto the next generation through the oral tradition of storytelling and folk theatre. Then these epics were written on palm-leaf manuscripts and papyrus scrolls. Printed books came much later in the 15th Century. So in the recorded history of human civilisation right from the first clay tablets in 2000 BC till today, stories have been told without printed books!
Printed paperbacks have served their purpose during the last few centuries and now it’s time for them to fade into the pages of history. Was there any hullabaloo about the death of gramophones? Did anyone mourn the phase out of the Morse code and the telegram? The digital technology has taken over every aspect of our lives, so why will the print media be spared? While reading books is important, it is necessary to evolve with time and opt for e-books so that reading will turn into a nice experience. I am definitely an e-book reader, are you?