E-books Vs. printed books

I love the smell of a book, old or new, like any other book-lover I know. I love the sight of a thick hard-back, the illustration on the jacket. I love to lose myself in it’s pages, a pencil in one hand, to underline or scribble, and a steaming cup of masala chai in another.

Nothing uplifts my mood as easily as walking the aisle between shelves brimming with books in a library or a bookstore. Nothing satisfies me as much as watching the pile of books I’ve already read  outgrow the pile I’m yet to lay my hands on.

I had always been a staunch supporter of printed books over E-books. I never gave in to the lure of fancy hand-held devices. When Prasad encouraged me to read digital newspapers or buy e-books, I acted deaf. I ignored his arguments supporting e-reading. “I’ll buy used books if money is the issue”, I retorted.

I called myself ancient, a romantic fool. The fact is, I was scared. Yes, I truly, seriously, from the depths of my heart feared new technology. Gizmos and Gadgets freaked me out. They come with their own language – coded, cryptic, undecipherable; They need to be attended to with care; Plus, they are super-expensive.

No matter what my inhibitions, Prasad bought me a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 for my birthday anyhow. This one has a magnetic pen attached to it; He wished to encourage the writer in me.

It is so portable I began carrying it around everywhere. I wrote whenever and wherever I could. But I always read from physical books. I did have the Kindle reader app installed but hardly ever used it.

Then, for another birthday, Prasad gifted me the whole set of Harry Potter books from Pottermore. Yup, E-BOOKS! ” I dream of you becoming a great author one day.”his message read. Of-course I HAD to give e-book-reading a try! And now I’m a convert.

Here I have listed a bunch of pros and cons of E-reading.

Pros:

1. I can read at night on my bed without having to turn ON the light and disturbing my family’s sleep.

2. Kindle, the reading app, lets me adjust the light setting, text color or background color of the book so my reading experience isn’t painful.

3. A number of e-books can be downloaded for free. Right now I’m reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, a free e-book.

Also, there are free children’s books. I always download a few before we head out, to read to my kids on long drives.

4. There are books I yearn to read but which aren’t easily available for purchase in India like the one I’m reading for my book club – The Firestarter Sessions. With Kindle I just order an e-book from Amazon so I don’t have to worry about shipping charges.

5. When I come across a word I can’t comprehend I just highlight it and ta-da, it’s meaning and usage appears. Kindle also allows me to highlight my favorite quotes or make notes as I read.

6. Books add to baggage weight while traveling, so I simply carry my tablet, which lets me read or even jot down all my travel experiences on one device.

7. It isn’t as difficult to figure out as I feared it would be.

I don’t know which device is better for reading: a Kindle E-reader that is solely dedicated to reading or a tablet that has other features apart from e-reading. My guess is any device should do as long as it has the Kindle app downloaded.

Cons:

1. When you have a number of books at your fingertips, you tend to jump a lot from one to another without finishing any. Wielding a bit of self-discipline should help in that case.

2. E-readers are expensive compared to physical books. But if you read a lot and buy books all the time (like I do. I hardly ever buy anything else for myself.) then investing in a tablet or an e-reader might be a good idea.

3. It’s a bummer if you get the itch to read something but your reader’s battery is down or it has decided to take a vacation of its own, when you’re traveling.

4. Hand-held devices are so cool, the kids will want to hold or play with them all the time. I only have educational games installed on mine, so I don’t mind if they insist upon playing. But E-readers like Kindle paper-white are built for reading only; I don’t think kids would be as interested in them.

All the above points mentioned are just my opinion. Anybody who’s deciding whether to buy an e-reader or not should make their own wise choice. All I’m saying is just give this new experience a try before you totally dismiss it as NOT your cup of tea, which I did for a long long time.

A book is a fount of knowledge and pleasure, no matter what form it takes. But if you still enjoy the feeling of a book in your hand and not a gadget, then I say, forget everything I mentioned above and just go with it. Reading should be fun, not a punishment.

(This post was prompted as a reply to my dear friend and soul-sister, Seema’s question. Thanks dear.)

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