May romance of books ‘kindle’ in times of tech onslaught!

A friend showed me his Kindle reader on Sunday. I had heard about Kindle of course but had not actually seen one. And even though I get slightly resentful when new technology threatens my comfort zone, I had to agree that there was little doubt that it would catch on.

If you are as technologically illiterate as I am, then you will not know what Kindle is. I’m not sure I can explain it properly but essentially, Kindle is a hand-held device roughly the size of a paperback book. It has a large screen on which you can download books.

The idea is that eventually, we won’t have to buy books. We will browse a catalogue on our Kindle screens, choose the books we want and then download them on our Kindle devices. That way, all books will be available to anyone who has access to Kindle.

I can see the logic behind Kindle. And I know that nothing can stop the march of technology, etc., etc. But I will miss the book even as Kindle drives it into eventual obsolescence.

I guess it’s the same with newspapers. I know that they remain a relatively inefficient, environment-unfriendly way of staying well informed. But there is no substitute for waking up in the morning and burying your face in a newspaper. I can’t watch TV in the morning and it is very unsatisfying to turn on the computer to find out what’s happening.

With books, it is the romance of book buying that I will also miss. There are few activities that can compare, in terms of sheer pleasure, with the joy of going to a good bookshop. You don’t actually have to buy that many books. It is the thrill of going through the shelves, perusing each book and leafing through its pages.

In that sense, book buying – or even window shopping – is almost a sensual activity. Reading the book on an electronic screen just doesn’t cut it in quite the same way.

My guess is that even if Kindle really catches on – which it probably will – as technology advances and costs come down, there will always be a market for books. Too many of us are in love with the sight of words on paper to give up on that romance.

The parallel is with the hardback. When paperbacks caught on, many people predicted the demise of the hardcover book. But even though the majority of the market is paperback dominated, the hardback still occupies a substantial and influential niche.

On the other hand, you could argue that the book will go the way of the music disc. When I was young, I used to love going to record stores and looking at album covers. Even when the LP died, to be replaced by the compact disc, I still enjoyed my visits to the shops and made lists of CDs I wanted to buy.

Now, in this ipod era, I care less and less about compact discs. My son and his generation would never dream of buying them. They just get their music from the internet. I doubt if the CD can survive for more than a decade or so.

I suspect the same will be true of the DVD. When I first bought a DVD player I used to love going to the shops in London and New York and looking for the latest DVDs. Now, I find them hideously overpriced and would much rather buy a pirate disc even though the retail experience can be disgusting. In a few years time, I imagine I won’t even have to buy pirate discs. I will just download everything I need from the net.

So, which model will the future of the book follow? Will it be the DVD and CD pattern where obsolescence is a given. Or will it be like hardback books, where the market remains.

My money is on the hardback model. But then, I am a romantic.

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  • amy

    In India there is hope for everyone, even in today’s age and time most home continue to maintain little way ,the developments of civilization.Take for example we maintain a candel, a lamp,an electric connection,an inverter and a generator all at the same time!!!So there is hope for Kindle as technology but will certainly not interest a romantic. There is nothing like finding a book, smelling its pages,holding it and turning its pages ,discovering it essence ,the pleasure can only be compared to spiritualism!!!


    Shrinidhi Shetty Reply:

    Books, be it either hardback or paperback will last as long as people are into reading.
    We say that, it is an era of e-book, e-paper, e-journal, “e-what and what not”. But whenever we are into little serious reading, paper’s is at your rescue. Paper literature will the queen of all times!!!
    We are and will be in love with paper!!


  • Sunil Tyagi

    Interestingly, a senior person in the books / publishing industry told me a few years back that the number of books being published over the world (especially in usa) every year increases.

    Very likely, if not in years but in a few decades, ‘readers’ like Kindle would do better and better – connect to the Net, make notes, underline text, bookmark, zoom to bigger text for easy reading…and the biggest advantage (which gets me bugged at times when reading a book as I get more used to a computer) – power to search.

    Though I wonder if unlike other complete tech-devices, books still might survive; they do have certain qualities that evoke emotions. But then…maybe emotions too will ‘upgrade’.


  • shashwat malik

    I too wud go with the hardback model.


  • http://none me

    changes of any type/kind hard to accept or not acceptable at times ,but once we get settle down with them r understanding becomes like wise.
    if it is easy to be with music on net than y go for CD/DVD but yes when if one is really out of his routine for days than CD’S N DVD’S come in .

    Reading book on Kindle will be easier than buying n reading it so again younger generation is already deep into it .

    But don’t wary sir “old will always will be gold” at gold cost N it will be for those who really understand the value of genuine things



  • koyel

    ”With books, it is the romance of book buying that I will also miss”

    Completely agree with u !
    I just love books and going through various books in a bookshop or window-shopping ..anything..even staring at them for hours doesn’t make me feel tired !

    Kindle is sort of ‘kewl’ ..but I’m so obsessed with books, even the smell of them make me feel really excited !(some guys have already started thinking of me as weird :D )

    BTW,thanks Veer ..It was lovely !


  • koyel

    sorry :(

    ‘Vir’ :)


  • prats

    it would surely go the paperback way. the reason newspapers are not yet obsolete is that feeling of the paper in your hand. so there would still be enough buyers out there who would buy a paperback/hardback.


  • nandini

    I sifted (sob sob!) through my books and selected 300 to give away. I’ll vote for the book anyday. But my mom – who insisted that I take my 7000 books from her house as soon as I moved out would vociferously support of Kindle. :-) Must try though. Is it easy to navigate?


  • S M Rana

    Certainly ought to be handy in travelling. Like the lead pencil and the fountain pen (if not the nib-holder, bamboo kalam and the legendary quill) I,m sure we will continue to enjoy the best of many worlds. But Kindle has definitely kindled my inteest.


  • Upen

    I think both are going to coexist and increase overall readers no. kindle is very convinient if you are away from bookstore but have time to read, kindle is bookstore in your palm!


  • Jiya

    I am a teenager who loves reading books. and it saddens me to say that there are not many of us out there anymore. My dad got me a kindle as a gift. At first i was beyond happy. i thought that i would get all my books in one place and therefore my reading experience would be enchanced. Its been almost a month now that i’ve had it and i havent even gotten around to reading one book! I still find my self picking up those novels at the train stations or going to Crosssword or Landmark and sitting and reading there. i guess im a romantic like you ! :P


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  • Brenda

    Wow! I’m African American and these comments are really sad to read considering the fact that I will be moving there with my Indian BF. I expect people to be close minded here in the states because that’s how people are conditioned but not elsewhere, my mistake. Until you travel and socialize with Africans from every part of the world its pretty juvenile to generalize an ENTIRE ethnicity. There is one RACE , the human race.


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