And the debate goes on, a little stale topic, but it is okay we do find new inputs for it.
Recently as I interacted with authors Ventakatraj Rao and Mithra Venkatraj, Mithra Venkatraj made a very interesting observation… the belief was once the story was penned down, it would not grow, or be reviewed, or interpreted which to a great extent was true. Writing engenders in us certain attitudes towards language. It encourages us to take words for granted. It enables us to store vast quantities of words indefinitely. This is advantageous on the one hand but dangerous on the other. The result is that we developed a false kind of security where language is concerned, and sensitivity to language has detoriated. We have become in proportion insensitive to silence. That is an off the track judgement.
Coming back to stories, and knowledge back, we heard bedtime stories, tales that haunted our parents and made them laugh at the same time. We never understood them until we were fully grown and they become our sole inheritance.
The oral tradition required two the story teller, or the knowledge giver and the seeker. When the books came we could carry our knowledge givers, sometimes more than one, books fall open, and you fall in. it reduced the people time. They opened new doors and crossed old boundaries.
Now stories have become more ambitious, imagine you could have hundreds of story tellers in a single room. That in itself was a wonder. Stories an knowledge lived in little flats called books, and were organized into gated communities called library all so that people did not have excuses to be stupid. Now each one of us want the library with us all the time.
With eBooks’, it means an entire library at our disposal at any given point of time. Now we really do not have an excuse to be stupid. We never lent books, for no one ever returns them; believe me, for the books in my library are books that other folks have lent me. With e-books there is no lending there is only a share; I have the book so do you. A ten year old from Texas, says, it’s more fun, costless and helps environment. While a nine year old from Virginia says,”you can tap on a word to see what it means and you can make the words big or small.”
So would one say that e-books win over the printed book?
Not really there is a magic of printed books, the fragrance of a new book, the magic when the pages open and we fall in. if we talk about second hand books, they are wild books, homeless books, they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack….something we once loved and love now, in the shape of a book. Maybe eBooks’ are going to take over, one day, but not until those whizz kids in the silicon valley invent a way to bend the corners, fold the spine, yellow the pages add a coffee ring or two and allow the plastic tablet to fall open at a favourite page.
At the end of the day I guess it is an individual choice. For me as of now it is the paperback. Maybe I will grow into e-book. I am just back from Bangalore book fair; when I look at the young that congregated there what I do feel is that books are here for a longer time yet.