Archive | 3:20 pm

Paper Book Vs. E-Book

13 Sep
Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Quite a few posts I’ve read about e-readers of late are like Bollywood movies. No, they don’t break into song and dance or defy the laws of logic, but they do follow a pretty predictable formula.

The post: A writer has tried the Kindle or iPad and loves it. He/she is a book lover and in no way wants e-readers to replace real books, but loves the fact that it makes travel lighter, solves the problem of shelf space etc. etc.

Reaction 1: A bunch of people will heartily agree because they really loved the Nook/ Kindle/iPad or what have you for the same reasons.

Reaction 2: Oh, my God. You call yourself a book lover? You have gone over to the dark side, you sell-out! And if anyone has actually written a positive review about the iPad: Apple is evil!! Back lighting ^%#* Eye strain *#%^ yada yada.

Formulaic, and like a Bollywood film, the novelty wears off in a while.

Anyway, here goes my experience with the evil, book-killer iPad!

e-books and e-readers. At first I was definitely against them. I am still not comfortable reading an entire book off a computer screen. I usually lounge on the couch or lie in bed while reading and a laptop is not exactly a handy little thing for this purpose.

But as my book shelves started getting overfull and groaning under all the weight, the idea of a weightless book that took up almost no space was very tempting. Enter the iPad. I confess that I haven’t had a chance to use it as much as I’d like. But I have managed to download 3 e-reader apps: Apple’s own iBooks, Free Books, and Kindle for iPad. I’ve downloaded a bunch of free ebooks – mostly the old classics which  are copyright free and reread many old favourites. It takes a wee bit of getting used to, especially if you come at it with a mind-block. But I find that I love it.

I still love the feel, smell and touch of of real paper. And I especially like the shopping experience of walking among tall shelves of books, browsing and reading, stalking other people in the book shop and all that. There is an adventure to finding books like that that a romantic like me truly misses with the e-book experience.

But while on holiday or traveling, the ebook reader – be it the Nook, Kindle or iPad (which is definitely more than an ereader) gets a definite thumbs up. It’s easy to carry around and doesn’t take up space and make my backpack a few kilos heavier.

And as for the panic about e-books replacing real books… I have no fear in this regard in the near future. In India, it is still rather expensive to buy ebooks. At $9-12 on Amazon, that’s Rs. 400 to 600 per book.

Online book stores, and other well-known small bookstores do sell used copies of older titles for as little as Rs. 80! For instance, I’m coveting a set of P.D. James’ Adam Dalgliesh books. Amazon quotes $10.70 (Rs. 500) for the Kindle version for a 2001 edition. My favourite bookshops here will easily have the older editions (this book was first published in 1962!) second or 10th hand for as little as Rs. 50 to 80. So I can almost pick up 10 of them for the price of one Kindle book.

Safe to say that there is a long way to go before e-books take over conventional books in a big way here for sure. In the meantime, I will be happy to download and read the occasional e-book and cut down some packing woes when on holiday! But I will also need to get some extra shelves to put those paper books that I’m going to continue buying.

Here are some interesting articles about e-readers and digital publishing:

E-reader Owners Prefer Kindle Over iPad

Electronic reading devices are transforming the concept of a book