E-book vs. Paperback

And thoughts on other trends in readership

I, as a reader these days, want to experiment as much as I can. I have my favorite authors, don’t get me wrong, and I try and read as many of their books as I can. Sometimes over and over again! But I also find myself looking out for different voices, for different genres. I think good books go a long way on the road to self discovery. And I feel spoiled for options! It gives me scope to explore and find a genuine, authentic voice — or a voice that just resonates with me.

I think classics will forever stay ‘classics’. For me, their stature is an unchallenged one. There would always be takers for them. It sometimes seems like now there is a general trend where people are preferring more contemporary books. But I hope people read classics every once in a while. For me, classics serve as an anchor to literature. While Saramago, Marquez, Toni Morrison push the boundaries of literature and make the universe we love larger, we also need an anchor to not lose ourselves in this ever changing, experimental neo-literature world.

I think e-books are amazing! They facilitate a world of readers without physical and geographical boundaries. Earlier, a domestic publisher might have restricted authors to his geography — at least till he was discovered by a global house. Not any more though. Almost all publication houses are now making a Kindle format available for the books they publish. Authors are now also publishing books with Amazon directly. They can reach a much wider audience with that tool. So it is a good move for literature and authors. Anything that’s a bridge, and not a wall, is always a welcome change.

I guess readers are also opening up to the idea of e-books more and more. They realize the benefit of reading little known authors from all parts of the world, they are increasingly conscious of saving paper. Someday, a new generation, while they are still kids and taking baby steps into the world of books, would start reading e-books directly. Since they wouldn’t know the feeling of holding a book, they might actually be agnostic towards the choice. I also get a sense that youngsters these days are sometimes attracted to a gadget first and then figure out what it can do for them. Whatever gets people hooked to reading, right?

I, however, am a little regressive in that regard. I have a kindle, but I have read only a couple of books on that. I am reading Les Miserables on it because of the sheer weight of the paperback. And it seems incomplete, somehow. For me, nothing can replace the pleasure of holding a book, the sense of touching the paper to turn the leaf, the smell… But I think reading is evolving and it is more practical to read e-books and the romantics, like yours truly, can only try to ignore the evolution and live in denial. The world around us constantly changing — more so now than ever before. In time, a major chunk of readership may migrate to the digital. But for our generation the love for the hard-bounds and paperbacks is bound to stay.

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