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E-books versus bookstores

By the next generation, most urban book readers are likely to be reading e-books from their Kindles, and libraries and bookstores would have to accept it as the inevitable. Aarefa Johari reports.

mumbai Updated: Aug 19, 2010 15:51 IST
Aarefa Johari

By the next generation, most urban book readers are likely to be reading e-books from their Kindles, and libraries and bookstores would have to accept it as the inevitable.

This is what four contemporary authors concluded at a public panel discussion on ‘E-book readers versus bookstores’, held at Kemps Corner Crossword Bookstore on Wednesday.

The panelists Gurcharan Das, Kalpana Swaminathan, Salma and Shreekumar Varma are all shortlisted nominees for the Vodafone Crossword Book Awards 2009 to be held in the city this Friday.

“I feel bookstores are going to be history soon because the younger generation wants everything on a screen,” said Das, nominated in the non-fiction category for his book The Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma.

“E-books are also going to get cheaper than an actual book over time, so there is no point being stuck in nostalgia.”

Varma, whose shortlisted children’s book The Magic Store of Nu-Cham-Vu is available as a digital talking book for those who are reading-impaired, emphasised the aspect of affordability. “How many people would be able to afford a Kindle? Besides, the human need to touch, smell and experience books will always remain,” he said.

Tamil author Salma, nominated in the translation category for The Hour Past Midnight, believes that the move to the digital world can affect the reader-writer relationship. “This is a very private relationship when a reader sits in solitude with a book. That privacy would be destroyed with e-books.”

Crossword will hold another panel discussion on Thursday after 8 pm, on the effects of book piracy on publishers. Panelists will include authors Amit Chaudhuri, Rajni Bakshi, Mridula Koshy, Sidhhartha Sarma and Arunava Sinha.