Tuesday 3 September 2013

Books v/s E-books & Bookstores v/s E-bookstores

It is not about the era that we grew up in...it is not even about whether computers were there back in the day or not...most of the kindle / other e-book readers today are of a generation that has definitely grown up with books and have had initial difficulty in reading on digital medium. Personal choices and preferences change on the go...at times due to convenience, at times simply because alternatives present now are better than before...or that the things we used in past no longer exist now, thus changing our choices.

Though I have personally moved from how I used to buy and listen to music...but, when it comes to books, I just can't seem to move away from books and bookstores. The old charm of a book still runs strong in my veins because how my childhood was influenced by dad's extensive collection of books and comics. I have grown up seeing extra luggage being packed just for dad's books - every time he got transferred. As a kid I used to be fascinated with books in dad's collection that were older than me...each of his books had a time stamp on them...his signature with the date when he bought it. Actually, some of these 'older-than-me' books still survive...they continue to amaze me. Can anything that's stored in digital format bring out similar nostalgia?

I prefer everything in physical version than the digital version...whether it is purchasing books or reading them. I still lose track of time in a book store, even if I didn't enter looking for anything in particular...even if I come out empty handed. There is something about buying books in a store that makes the entire experience worthwhile for me...the smell of new books...the feel of crispness of paper...the weight of a book in my hand...the bending & stretching to reach for books...spending time in a book store has never been a challenge for me. I can't say the same about online bookstores, where I rather tend to get bored.

Buying a book for me is not a quick process...having moved away from purchasing general fiction, I no longer buy books based on any popular author as the only motivation. I need to look at many books, see if there is something that attracts me about the book...some of it happens to be visual appeal along with what the book's about. It is almost like purchasing something personal...the book will leave a mark on me...I will build theories and opinions based on what I read and I need to be sure of the book before I allow it to have such an influence on me. I can manage this kind of a bond can only in the physical world, not in the digital one!

When I say I prefer the physical books over e-books, I don't claim to have never read a book on Kindle, nor that I didn't enjoy reading on Kindle. On the contrary, I actually found reading to be more convenient - with back light, I didn't need to switch on a light at night...I didn't need a bookmark. Moreover, it allows me to carry all my books with me...I don't even need a book cabinet anymore. BUT, the question for me is: am I looking for these benefits? The short and simple of it is...I don't think I do! I like using bookmarks...I like reading in well lit rooms...I like to flip through pages, instead of pressing buttons...I like to have a book on my bed-side table...I also like to display books in my already over flowing book cabinet.

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