Are Books Dying?

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With the advent of internet literally everything is going online – from our random mundane thoughts to our relationship statuses to birthday party invites to literally everything under the sun. Whether all of that is correct or not is a a discussion for another day. But what I think is downright tragic is the online-fication of reading. And the only people who will indentify with my sadness are the ones who have experienced the sheer joy of sitting on a windowsill with a lovely book in their hands and have submitted themselves to the world created by the author/poet. There may be a thousand positives of, say, a Kindle – its easy, portable, efficient, allows you to carry a library in your bag and blah blah. But it can never match the physical reassurance that an actual book brings with it. You just cant contemplate on what you have just read with a tab like you can with a book. A downloaded book just doesn’t have the same appeal as a freshly unpacked book does – the peculiar yet lovely fragrance, the touch of paper on your fingers, the promise of taking you on an enchanting journey.

Sadly the new extremely internet-savvy (addicted) generation wont be able to – or probably wont want to – experience the entire journey that is searching for a new book. Some of my most memorable days were spent in old, gorgeous second hand book markets scouring through millions of titles for that one elusive novel. How a little shreik would escape me on finding it! The heavy-duty bargaining that would follow. And the ecstacy of finally sealing the deal for the perfect prize. Then, finally, the joy of opening your book for the first time and losing yourself completely. Unfortunately, doing click click to download a book and then swipe swipe to read it will never come in the same vicinity of what I just described.
How do we expect the younger generation to appreciate literature, to cherish the written word and by implication all the progress that a single book stands for.
And its not just e-book readers that are killing books. The other villain in the story is this whole fad of adapting books for the big screen. Earlier the reply to ‘Have you read this book?’ used to be a simple yes or no and a depending on the answer an encouraging discussion would follow, invariably resulting in the exchange of some lovely books. Now the same question is answered with ‘ Its good? Hmm I’ll download it’ or ‘Yeah yeah I’ve heard it’s good. Am waiting for the movie.’ If only I got a dollar for all the times I’ve been bombarded with the last two answers I would… Errrm, well i would buy these people some books!! I remember accidentally watching ‘The Namesake’ and loving it.



Those were my ignorant-I-am-preparing-for-competition-I-don’t-have-time-to-read years. I loved the movie tremendously and,well, that was it – I never thought of reading the book. Just recently I happened to come across this title and grabbed it immediately. Oh, the things I had missed by being content with the screen adaptation. The depth, the emotion, the simplicity, the irony of the book was unmatched by the movie. Even though the movie was great, the book remains a piece of literature that has left an indelible mark on my very soul. That, right there, is the power of an astounding piece of literature. As clichéd as it might sound, the book shall be my companion for years, it will hold the pride of place in my little library, I will pass it on to my children and if i am around i will poke my grandchildren to read it. I cherish the books that have been in my family for ages. The calligraphy of yesteryears, the cover art, the beautiful fragrance of the yellowing paper, the initials of the owner on the first page, the nostalgia. That’s something worth preserving – internet or no internet. And that’s what I want to leave behind, not a silly kindle!
I hope there are people out there who see reason in my ranting and understand that my passion isn’t really misplaced. In all things that this information overload of the internet age has provided us with the worse thing has been the distance created between the reader and his book. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable patrons of reading seem to be converting and that in my opinion is sheer blasphemy. To use a sports analogy, a Kindle is a T20 match compared to the Test that is a physical book – you’ll enjoy the small, little match, you’ll scream and shout and jump up and down and just like that it’ll all be gone, unlike a well-played Test. In a Test, you’ll notice the technique, the flick of the batsman’s wrist, his stance, the bowler’s run up, the team’s strategy; you’ll tell your children of the Test matches of your day, of the poetry that was Laxman’s batting, of Dravid’s endurance. The slow, simple things create a legacy; they bring beauty to the world and peace to the soul. Don’t let them die in vain.