Books – Scrambling for Space

As someone, who, through most part of my life picked the ‘fattest’ book from the library, I’ve watched – with interest, changes in the world of reading over the past decade. Print, in particular.

I suspect, this evolution (if you can call it that) is a global phenomenon. It crept upon us quietly, while we were busy taking conference calls on our way to work, putting food on the table and booking on-line tickets to that oh-so-exotic-Sakura- filled-holiday in Japan.

Somewhere in the middle of catching up with all of these, we were losing touch with our closest companions – our books.

I tried to justify this changing landscape – I was multi-tasking, so I had less time to spend … I’ll keep collecting books and hope I’ll find the time to read them soon…I don’t really want to know about the 50 shades of grey…etc, etc.

In hindsight, it seemed like books had been sacrificed on the altar of The Bold & the Beautiful, the Saas Bahu serials and YouTube clips.

I had discovered a new world of information on Facebook. The Encyclopaedia Britannica got swapped for Wikipedia. For the ghoul in me, there were always bloodbaths on Twitter…

The digital/electronic medium seems to be slowly but surely winning the war over the scent of paper.

How could it be otherwise?

Traditional publishers are saddled with the costs of getting dead trees to customers—paper, printing, binding, warehousing, and shipping. Authors are looking at crowd funding as a quicker & more viable option to knocking at the doors of publishing houses. Readers today have an array of e-options. E-books are cheaper, easier to access and delivered instantly.

However, it is not, as Steve Jobs told a reporter in 2008, “People don’t read anymore”. People still do. In fact, in just a week of its release, the book ‘Steve Jobs’ sold over a half a million copies!

While for most erstwhile bookworms, reading continues to be a passion what has changed is the format in which it is delivered.

In the meanwhile, the Higginbotham store of my childhood has all but disappeared. So have the Landmarks & the Crossword that sold me my most precious belongings. My librarian has stopped calling me up to remind me to return the books that I had borrowed.

As I read about the new link road from India to Bangkok on Facebook, I wonder if this change is here to stay…

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