The Ebook v/s the Real Book

I remember trying to read a book in a subway train. It was a large voluminous novel that received attention only because of its size. While the crowd in the compartment increased, I also recall trying to balance the novel in my hand and wishing for a simpler –thinner version of the book.

Few years down the line: E- Books emerged. The only thing was that the e-book was not portable; you needed a desktop PC or laptop.  I tried reading via the electronic book but I got weary of sitting put straight staring into a screen and scrolling with the help of the mouse to turn the pages. It was a strain on the eyes too.

Count a few years more and you have Kindle and currently the I- Pad to make your reading life much easier.

The white bodied Kindle by Amazon is an e-reader with which you can turn the page with a click of a button. Whereas the black I-Pad by Apple is a bigger version of the I-Phone and a touch screen, which makes navigation of pages easier. The major difference between the two amongst others is the fact that the I-Pad has more applications like music. (Multi-tasking however cannot be done here- One application is the rule.

With gadgets like these who would want to get up and enter a library, book store or roadside vendor and buy books? It is all too easy- Search for a book through the software and choose or download it and you will have it for a lifetime (till you do decide to delete it). These devices can store 1500 books at a time, which means you will never be without a read… ever.

So here is the deal- You have plenty of books in your kindle and need not waste time physically getting to a shop and buying a hard bound book. You can turn the pages with the swish of finger in your I-Pad and thus not much exercise and effort is needed for your very tired fingers. You can change the font as and when you please, to help you read better- a boon for the poor sighted. It really does not matter whether the book is voluminous or not because it will all be the same once it is in your e- reader.  While all these facts really are cushy, they make the entire activity of reading mechanical.

Buying a book would no longer involve picking it up and reading the snippet at the back cover. If it’s a classic book from a library then you would no longer take a whiff of the yellowed pages and checking out the pages for some notes. Resorting to dogs ears’ to mark the last page read just before falling asleep would be obsolete. Dotting the pages with statements underlined that one would not want to forget would be something of the past. Will any lover of reading want forgo these simple but wonderful dealings?

There are some plus points that give these gadgets some depth. Some hail these as environment friendly devices. However while owning a kindle or I-Pad would lead to drastic decrease in publication of books, it would definitely increase the consumption of electricity.

And another feature that is raved about is the inbuilt dictionary which would help lazy individuals to know the meanings without going through the difficult process of manually searching in the dictionary. Hurray for such devices that are bound to instill a state of inertia.

Avid reader–travelers would find the e-book very economical and light to carry along on their travails. But then again who would want to read one too many books when one can create a book through one’s own unique experience?

No. I’m not against scientific development. Gadgets that would help to decrease distress  and be a service to mankind should be top priority and are gladly welcomed rather than developing devices that would make one almost robotic and lessen human contact.  Creating devices that make life easier does not necessarily mean having to seduce individuals with the comfort of being lazy.

Having said all of the above – I would rather enjoy reading the classic way- curling up in bed and reading an actual novel- at my own pace and marking it with my thoughts and words adding to the experience mentioned.  My previous thoughts of wanting a smaller thinner version of the book while in a train can ‘go with the wind’. I’ll just choose a novella instead of a huge book.

Chriselle Fernandes

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