The 21st century is not short on debates – especially those between the old and the new. Literature has not been exempted from this either. Especially the debate between print and digital media. With many print magazines shifting to digital media and some completely stopping print publication, bibliophiles are worried that their dystopian nightmare of a bookless world is coming true. But let’s face it “the times they are a changing …”.
But then a bibliophile is plagued by certain questions- How do you read a story without taking in the scent of the pages? without feeling the texture of the paper? without hearing the crisp turning of the pages? While I admit that a pdf is much cheaper and saves a lot of trees, a book is irreplaceable. While the most important thing is that we continue to read, no matter the medium there are somethings that only reading a book will get you. For me, I’d always felt that books find me instead of the other way around, but that gets lost when you can download it with just a click. The search for that one elusive book through the dusty library shelves and inadvertently stumbling upon a completely different book you’ve been looking for a long time. The joy of discovery then knows no bounds. Also reading off a screen feels impersonal.
While for a bibliophile cleaning their room might be cumbersome, stacking their books is a process of pure joy. Then there are the stories that each book says apart from the one printed on it. Especially in second-hand books or those from the library. Random creative scrawlings, personal doodles, some forgotten love note or phone numbers.
It might all seem like an antiquated stream of thought, but a true bookaholic would understand the feeling of holding a book in their hands. We lose a lot while we gain something new. It’s not anybody’s fault but simply the way the world works. But there is nothing more heartbreaking for a bibliophile than losing a book as many will agree. They ‘ll happily lend you money but they’ll hesitate to lend a book. But the entire concept of lending a book vanishes with e-reading.I don’t wish to see a world were a book becomes a display box in a museum. Let’s definitely embrace technology but let’s not give up on books.
All the book lovers can take consolation from Stephen Fry’s words
“Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators”.