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.