Thursday, January 28, 2010

Digital Books Versus Conventional Books

After the advent of e-book and technologies like the Kindle, pundits have started doubting the future of conventional books.

The Jaipur Literary Festival hosted a discussion on whether books will survive the digital age. There were many luminaries from the world of literature and film writing.

The discussion was a cordial one which involved exchanging of views and not contesting them. The panel was mainly divided on two lines, adoptation and spurning of technology in general. The consensus was in favor of technology.
But some differed.

Gulzar, the Bollywood lyricist, said he has a nostalgic bonding with books and authors and that the digital format is too artificial for him. He said his thoughts flow only when he writes on a piece of paper, not the computer screen.

I have heard many old timers say this, but have often found them extreme in their dislike for technology regardless of form. I think moving from paper to screen is a matter of mental adjustment. Technology makes life very easy once you know how to use something and if anything it helps you present a more polished creative output.

Refuting Gulzar, another panelist said, use of technology doesn’t hinder creativity. What you create is important and not what you create with, he added.

But, like any old timer, when it comes to reading, I am more for books than the Kindle kinds.

However, I drew up a list of benefits e-reading offers:

• Books are a costly affair and a person of modest means sometimes doesn’t have any option but to buy a pirated copy if he/she wants to read a good book: spawning notorious piracy. E-books are cheaper and sometimes available for free and so can take books to greater number of people.

• If you are an inveterate book buyer, books tend to pile up taking up lot of space; the pile keeps growing until the books spill out of the shelf, then another shelf, then another shelf. Not so with e-books.

• Although lot of page markers are littered on your table, the page marker you page-marked your book with the last time you put it down somehow makes its way out of your book with you having to painstakingly find your way back again. With digital books, you page-mark electronically and unless you have really goofed up somewhere which is very unlikely, nothing goes wrong.

For all my e-evangelizing, I have never read an e-book (although I read online papers and magazines) and don’t think, as the host of the literary discussion had once tweeted, will ever like to give up the tactile pleasure of turning pages for the e-format.

But technology has a way of overcoming mental blocks and making itself acceptable and then indispensible. Think about e-mails.


Ellen said...

Good writing! It's a piece I will be coming back to for another read. Thanks for writing this.

Blessings of peace and happiness to you and yours.


indrablog said...

Hi Elen,
Many thanks for your comments. I heard this discussion in parts and thought to write this piece.

I am always honoured to have you here.

Amritbir Kaur said...

That was a nice analysis. I myself have tried to analyse my own views about that many times...Though I am not totally against using such technologies for reading yet I cannot bring myself to accept a world without printed books..that is the conflict.

indrablog said...

Hi Amrit,
Thanks for visiting. Yes, like you many can't imagine e-book replacing printed books and many wouldn't accept it easily either.

Mark said...

Probably the biggest benefit of using ebooks is that it is eco friendly and does not involve the use of paper. Using printed books involves the use of paper which comes from cutting down trees. In this environmentally challenged world, I guess ebooks are the perfect solution to stop wasting paper. So I guess going forward in the future, we might not be allowed to cut down trees and so ebooks would be in use...

Anyways with the sophistication in technology, there will be lots of refinements to ebook technology...take a look at Barnes and Noble nook ereader and the Apple Ipad

indrablog said...

Hi Mark,
You have pointed out all the crucial point I had missed out on. I fully agree with you.

jinksy said...

The tactile feel of a book will never be replaced by technology, but it is clear there are benefits to using one screen for all. Inverterate hoarders like me, for a start, would find storage less of a problem!

indrablog said...

Hi Jinsky,
I fully agree with you. I feel the two can co-exist; after all we have news available in three formats now: online, TV and newspaper and all of them find takers.

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