An alarm you set on your mobile phone wakes you up on Monday morning. With eyes only half open, you hold Screen#1 in your hand and scroll through the stacked-up notifications from Sunday night, spending the next 10 minutes doing a mental audit of happenings across different social media websites that you virtually exist in.
With your morning coffee, you switch on your Screen#2, where a box tells you what powerful individuals think you should know about the world. You reach your workplace and position yourself ahead of Screen#3, your companion for the rest of the day.
You work on whatever you’re paid to do, then gladly shut your device down and leave for home. It is vital to mention here that you are a devoted reader. Now comes the part you look forward to the entire day — preparing your cup of tea and reading a book. You take out Screen#4 for that.
The manner in which technological advancement, mass convenience and other fancy terms like these have facilitated our lives is as salient as it is unprecedented.
The advent and rise of e-books is, however, not something I’m too keen about. The avid reader in me is in love with the physical beauty that books hold — the sensation of running the gaze across beautiful fonts, the scent of fresh pages, the enigma with which a well-designed book cover, lying on a shelf, captures your attention — feelings that a rechargeable digital screen can never provide.
It would be silly if I was oblivious to the edge that this technology holds — the ease of portability, instant availability, vast online collection, minimal storage space, resizable fonts and so on. However, they cannot easily outweigh the magnificence of words on paper.
Also read: ESSAY: For the love of literature
Moreover, the idea of lending a book to a friend or gifting someone that latest paperback they had been after for so long is not worth letting go off, in awe of a gadget that will hurl your entire reading collection into oblivion if it malfunctions or breaks down.
Not everyone can afford a Kindle or an iPad which makes this technology unsuitable for a big chunk of readers across the world.
A tablet requires power and a WiFi connection to run and if you are sitting on a beach, you might as well forget reading for the day. Adding to that, straining eyes on a computer screen is what the average human does every day, all day long, and so when it is reading time, I wouldn’t want to be staring at another one.
Everything aside, the most meaningful aspect of this debate is what comes next. For faithful, dedicated readers like me, books hold a sacred place like that of an old friend. It is like a companion that sits on your shelf every day and reminds you of the time spent together.
Also read: Books over bullets
Then one day, upon seeing all your old friends neatly stacked on racks, you are glad on having managed to preserve some part of yourself ‘offline’.
That’s the grace of books; they remind you of yourself. No amount of clicks and downloads can give that kind of connection.
According to Oxford Dictionary, a book is a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
Our world today is worryingly digitised; everything from entertainment to communication is governed by buttons and screens. Are we so blinded by technology that we’re disregarding the very essence of reading? Do we really consider digital text as books?
To test this, I started a Twitter poll about a month and a half ago and the statistics that came along were pleasingly promising.
Furthermore, it can be safely deduced that the future of the print and publishing industry is safe, as e-book sales have already begun to dwindle.
A DailyMail news article last month stated that paperback sales in the US had gone up by 8.9 per cent and that Britain’s biggest bookstore chain Waterstones “is planning to scrap sales of Kindles after purchases slowed to a ‘dribble’.”
Not everyone loves printed books and not everyone prefers e-books. Those of us who like turning pages will always end up at a bookstore and spend a few bucks.
Just as someone who loves theatre will always buy a ticket to the play, just like the lover of CDs will purchase an album and just like the true friend will call in to say hello, the faithful reader in us will die to read off paper. Sometimes, it’s okay to stay old-school.