The enlightened call a person wise when all his undertakings are free from anxiety about results.

— Krishna in The Gita

The mind is everything. What you think you become.
— Buddha

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The writing on the (digital) wall

Recently, while travelling from JFK International Airport to Dubai I spotted something very interesting – a 40 plus mother and her teenaged son, both of whom seemed to be avid readers. Ever curious to know what they were reading, I glanced at them from time to time. The mother was holding a paperback edition of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. But try as much as I would I couldn’t guess what the son was immersed in, as he was reading a digital book, perhaps from a Sony reader. Later, when I boarded the plane I saw another young woman, a college student perhaps, reading from her iPad.
Looks like the digital revolution has well and truly caught up with the world of reading, I thought to myself.
All signs apparently point to the fact that 2010 will go down in history as the most significant year in publishing in modern times. Statistically, 95 per cent of all books sold no more than 5000 copies in the last year. In fact, several publishers were said to delay eBooks to help the hardcover titles sell. Others inflated prices online but gave deep discounts at real booskstores.
Small and independent publishers, on the other hand, were forced to embrace the digital technology as any profit was better than no profit at all. Social networking sites and blogs came in handy, as self-publishers could directly pitch to readers without any extra cost of advertising.
The reason why the iSlate—capable of accessing and containing audio, video, and both static and dynamic text—and Sony readers, along with iPhone have been embraced by the reading public is that these devices are sleek, easily portable and they allow people to carry hundreds of books with them. Even better, due to the use of eInk technology, they don’t cause eye strain or discomfort, a common problem one faces while reading online.
In a 2008 survey, some 40 per cent of 1,000 industry professionals surveyed said digital content would overtake traditional printed book sales by 2018. But it might be sooner than anticipated.
For me personally, it’s an unthinkable idea, at least for now. I’m attached to my books, for their smell, familiarity and the tactile experience they offer. It can’t compete with the cold, detached feel of an electronic reader, can it? But when you weigh the advantages, who knows?


  1. The times they are a changing. From hand-written mails it came down to emails and now to no mails, just posting 1 liners in twitter and facebook and such "social" networking sites. Considering the advantages that e-readers offer, we'll sooner or later jump on the bandwagon no doubt, but for now it's printed books!

  2. I have switched over to eBooks. There is a flip side. I'm reading whenever I am idle like waiting for a bus, walking between buildings etc. :)

  3. Even I prefer ebooks. Reading has become much easier.

  4. Thanks you so much Neena, Happy New Year to you and your family too.

  5. Oh yes, the times are changing! Though, I am not very keen on reading e-books... love to feel and read the real books. But I love to read blogs on my Blackberry :)

  6. brilliant and informative piece boss..enjoyed reading this..u have presented the publishing scenario in a nutshell..

  7. I have already switched to eBooks. Good for environment. I am hoping local libraries provide eBooks too.

    Actually my next post is about a related topic. Do read it.

  8. ebooks are ok for light reading. i read some wodehouse, 3 men in a boat, some jeffrey archer novels. tried reading a novel by graham greene. tough.. ! :-)

  9. I have said 'no' to a lot of things and eventually landed up doing it. eBooks could be one of it. For now, I love to touch and feel my book when I read it.

  10. I dont know why may be age facotor, but i like reading books in paper edition only..reading too much thru screen gives me headache.

  11. i doubt if ebooks will be the way for me,, i like to see my collection in the shelf..

  12. apart from all advantages of these gadgets, when it comes to reading, I prefer to be with my books..... its a difference xperinece all together.... BTW thnx for ur views on my page...

  13. .

    Hi Neena ,

    This is my first visit on your blog. Genuinely enjoyed reading your views. You are right , nothing can replace the printed paper books....ummmm....smells niceeeeeee.

    Becoming your follower now. Will look forward for your next wonderful piece.



  14. I love the feel of books too. But, I guess I would have never thought of updating status on FB ever so often up until 2 years ago! SO who knows. I tried using my iPhone to read. But its toooo small for me. Maybe an iPad or something like it when they stop publishing books on paper at all!

  15. Hi Neena,

    We are at the crossroads.It is time to think about changing our habits if we want to survive.

    Although having real books has advantages I think they are not acceptable to the younger generation.I am glad e books are helping the reading habit.

    All of us have to switch over to e books ultimately although habits die hard.

    Best wishes,

  16. well i am old school so still am far behind the ever changing technology.. :)

    hopefully one day i will get there also money is a constraint they are so expensive ...


  17. Anil at' Windy Skies" had written an interesting blog on books read by fellow travellers on his train journey.

    I am not surprised that 95% of books are not sold well.Even some of the so called best sellers are crap.Best selling authors like Paulo Coelho has turned to writing quotes from other books!Harry Potter is not growing the way he should have. It is all money matters.
    I cant still get the idea of e books. Somehow,I find it difficult to read and enjoy them.The joy of holding the book you love,and going to sleep with the book resting on your chest,is simply lost there.

    Times have changed.I dont even know how people enjoy the audio books.Authors themselves have come out with their own voices.Funny ideas.Who knows what is next!

  18. Hello!
    I agree with You!

  19. Thanks for visiting.

    It's true, the world is now shuttling between e and i. It will certainly reduce our dependence on papers. But books are books, enjoying morning Newspaper with a cup of Coffee is just heaven.....

  20. Well i guess 2010 will also be known as populism in literary field. Unless you are properly marketed or popular, the books may end in dumps no matter however good it is. In short most of us judged the book by its cover

    Digital content can avoid papers and thus a little afforestation
    Libraries can also find digitalizing quite useful!
    But the feel?! I doubt it