‘Books are not going to be here anymore,’ said a tech-savvy gentleman a few months back.
‘Then what happens to reading?’ I asked.
He had then pointed towards his laptop and then his tablet and mentioned that ebooks were the future. ‘Then there is always the kindle,’ he said with a victorious twinkle in his eyes and added, ‘a virtual library that you can carry with for all the time. Everywhere.’
I nodded in disbelief. I went ahead and even asked my son to gift me a kindle, which he did. Just a few days back my son, who is in London, was visiting us, and he asked, ‘How many books have you read on your kindle?’
I said, ‘I have more than 300 book there.’
‘How many have you read,’ he insisted.
‘None,’ I replied in an almost inaudible voice. That’s the truth. So many books there, some bought and some downloaded free… but none read completely so far.
Now I am convinced that the kindle and all the hullabaloo about ebooks is not a serious threat to real books… I mean the books in print.
I have talked to a lot of friends and discovered that ebooks do create a lot of excitement and are probably bought in millions globally and might even be earning a few writers a lot a money… but they have not made the printed books fade away.
An article published in telegraph in January 2015 admits that the ‘sales of physical books has increased’ and informs that ‘even Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook boss, has a New Year’s resolution to read a book every fortnight and has started a book club’. Publishers Weekly is quoted in Geekwire to have declared that ‘the 2014 figures are further evidence that print books are selling better than they have since sales of eBooks exploded in 2010.’ the trend, it seems, is slowly but surely being reversed. Robert Topping, a bookseller, has said, ‘I’m utterly confident that there is life in books. E-books were hyped up nonsense.’
So are the Kindles, Kobos and the Nooks of the world unseating the printed books? No, I’d say… and if I see my own habits, they are firmly and sternly in favour of holding a real book in my hands and savouring it.
My rough guess is that in the battle of kindle vs books (and I am mentioning kindle as a converged term for ebooks in all sorts or readers), there are a few factors that have gone in favour of books that we see in our shelves at home or in libraries or book-shops:
- Books can be immersive without the social media updates and other messaging of the virtual world pulling me out of reading.
- Books allow me to flip and get attracted to a random page that proves to be an uplifting experience.
- I can underline passages and make my own notes and they link me to my own reading past in a subtle way.
To those who point out that bookshops are closing down, let me just say that I do most of my book buying online… maybe it is because of the bargains that I get there. So brick-and-mortar bookshops need to awaken to this fact and probably offer a better discount. They are, of course, giving a better experience as they do have coffee shops and teahouses and even gyms linked to them. All this is certainly turning people back to real books.
I guess life is slowly navigating back from the virtual kingdoms of books to real nooks where I can sit with a pile of books and decide which ones to buy.
01 February 2016