I read a paperback recently; an incident that made me realise how wrong I had been to believe one will always feel nostalgic towards books with real paper. There indeed was a time when I used to look down on eBooks as format. I knew I wasn’t alone, the debate was on. I used to think reading them is futile, a fleeting pleasure. A pathway for a lazy few; the ones who do not appreciate the feel of a paperback in their hands.

That was before Kindle happened.


EBooks all the way

It was gradually that I started rejoicing eBooks. It was via the Kindle app first, mostly on my iPad. The built in dictionary was one of the most useful feature that pulled me in. It helps a lot when a person, not well-versed in English, can simply select a word to fathom its meaning. No need stretching out to fetch a dictionary and scan for the word. Either that or to make some broken sense out of the sentence without knowing the word. Not an experience one can call satisfactory.

There was another feature that I benefitted from the most, sync to the furthest read position. Be it an iPad, iPhone or the Kindle web reader extension, be it home, office or a lengthy queue of a supermarket, my book was always available, synced to where I had left it earlier. There is some relief in not maintaining a physical book and the nosy bookmarks. They are played with, they are misplaced, they are lost. They even are hinderance sometimes, often when you are in-fact reading. (Isn’t that generally a time one holds a book anyway?)

eBooks came handy. But there was still an issue I faced. iPads were heavy, iPhones tiny. Paperbacks (mostly) are best by size and weight. You hold them, read even at a stretch and don’t feel you have lost a limb. With iPads? Well, they really are not made for reading in long stretches. Not at least the iPad 2, which I own. Most of the time is spent in finding the perfect surface for resting the iPad on. Not really a painless experience. Inadvertently, I ended up reading on iPhone more.

Welcome Kindle

Kindles, the hardware, had just recently launched in India. I knew there were benefits to them. For one, they were made with reading as sole purpose. So they were designed to be best fit by size and weight. I had heard so many stories of how it changed people’s reading habits, made them read more. I knew I wanted one. A bit of research, a bit of playing around with them. I decided I wanted one. For reasons of mine (which I would go into someday), I settled on the Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display (Prev. Generation) with page turning keys, the non-touch screen one.

And the reading experience has never been the same again. I am reading more, I am reading longer. Surprisingly, it has made my wife too into an avid reader. A person who rarely considered reading as her hobby, she spends good amount of time finding and reading books. Paperbacks, ones with real pages, could never do that. eBooks did, especially Kindle.

So coming back to a paperback, it did turn out to be a painful experience. Holding the book was troublesome. Bookmarking was troublesome. Turning pages was troublesome. Wanting to read the book at office was worthless. At one point, I wanted to stop reading it in between, buy an ebook version and continue. The nostalgia, induced by the scent of real pages, can only take you so far. eBooks, for me, have ruined the pleasure of the physical books. Kindle has owned me now; and I can never go back.