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10 years of Kindle: Celebs recall the first book they read (or didn’t read) on the Kindle

The Kindle was launched in the US on November 19, 2007. spearheading a new revolution in digital reading. Amazon made the device available in India in 2012. As the Kindle celebrates its tenth anniversary, HT speaks to a cross-section of professionals on their reading experiences on the device

india Updated: Nov 19, 2017 00:29 IST
Aishwarya Gupta
Aishwarya Gupta
Hindustan Times
Kindle,ebooks,physical books
(Image courtesy Shutterstock)

Hansal Mehta, filmmaker

Bollywood director, writer and producer Hansal Mehta poses during an exclusive interview with HT City in New Delhi. (Hindustan Times )

I’ve been using a Kindle since 2010. It was a gift from my wife. Since I was still discovering how to download books on it, the first one that I read was a pre-loaded book, James Hadley Chase’s I’ll Bury my Dead.

During the making of Shahid, we were to shoot in a remote area of Himachal Pradesh. The journey took 24 hours by train and another 15 hours by road. So the Kindle proved to be an invaluable companion during the trip and I ended up downloading almost half a dozen books and read three out of them. Also, the Kindle was my only source of the internet there since we had no mobile signals. One of the books I read during the journey was Madhu Trehan’s Tehelka as a Metaphor: Prism Me a Lie, Tell Me a Truth. I wanted to make a film on the book but somehow it never materialised.

Now it has become my preferred reading method. It is easy on the eyes and for carrying as well. I have bought the new Kindle Paperwhite but I miss the previous one since the latter was not touch screen and the buttons made me feel like I was flipping the pages of a book. It was closer to the experience of a physical book than the new version. But I find the Paperwhite to be quite spectacular as well!

Currently I’m working on an adaptation of Ashwin Sanghi’s Sialkot Saga which I came across on the Kindle. Most of my research material is on Kindle and I like to carry it with me at all times. You can bookmark and highlight paragraphs. It’s a major convenience for research purposes.

I gifted a Kindle to Rajkumar Rao a few months ago and made book suggestions as well!

David Abraham, fashion designer

David Abraham during a fashion show in New Delhi. (Hindustan Times )

My first (and only) Kindle was given to me as a gift by my partner a couple of years ago. The first book I read on it was Akhil Sharma’s Family Life. I also subscribed to “The New York Times” as well as “The Guardian” immediately. I found the Kindle most convenient whenever I travelled as I didn’t need to stuff thick books into my hand baggage to read during flights. Though when I’m at home, I still find myself buying and reading books in print. I still enjoy the physicality of a book.

Sudeep Chakravarti, writer

Sudeep Chakravarty at his house in Goa. (Mint file photo)

I bought my first Kindle this year, but I’ve been using it along with other e-book formats on my laptop for several years. The first Kindle book I read was Calcutta by Geoffrey Moorhouse. Now I use it for a lot of research-related reading as preparation for my own books, as well as occasionally for pleasure. I have a guilty pleasure: reading young adult fiction, an outstanding, exhilarating genre, on the Kindle. I read both printed books and ebooks. While I love the look and feel of a printed book, I like the convenience of a Kindle.

I do have memories associated with the Kindle. All my books are on it, and it is such a convenience because people can access books so easily, across vast distances and borders, with a few clicks of a mobile phone or computer keyboard. I have a great romance with printed books, but Kindle and ebooks are undeniable conveniences. I’ve had middle-aged readers, readers with poor eyesight, and readers who travel very frequently tell me they only read my books when they become available on the Kindle.

Rana Safvi, writer

Initially I was living in the Gulf and the Kindle and other online resources were my primary research material. I bought my first Kindle in 2012 and the first book I downloaded on it was In the Bazaar of Love by Paul E Losensky and Sunil Sharma. Most of the books I buy on Kindle, I buy in physical form too! Thought it’s easier to read online, I like the feel of a physical book. I do most of my research while resting in the afternoon or at night, and this is where the Kindle is a big help to me.

Durjoy Dutta, writer

Durjoy Datta (File photo)

I got my first Kindle from a friend in the US when it was still not available in India. Then I broke it. So I had to courier it to Amazon US for a replacement which they didn’t receive but they sent me a new one anyway! I lost that too so I’ve bought a new one. This is my third Kindle. For like three-four months a year, I am obsessed with buying books on the Kindle and I get everyone around to do the same. I shift to physical copies for the rest of the time.

My overall experience with it has been quite good. When I started off with my first Kindle, it did not have that back light feature. The books are cheaper, easier to find and there is no waiting period till delivery. Also, the guilt goes down because when you buy a hardback and stop midway, it keeps staring at you from the bookshelf and inspires guilt. This can be avoided with the Kindle.

Namita Gokhale, writer

I bought my first Kindle 10 years ago. Though I like the physicality of books, I deeply appreciate technology. I am a great admirer of the Kindle. And I am curious to see how the technology will develop from here. I was working with some technology-related areas a few years ago and was told that not too far into the future, we will be able to read on the air. I am sure that’s around the corner. And I don’t think the physicality of books has anything to do with the quality of reading, it’s just that I have grown up as an old-fashioned reader.

I think access is everything and even though I don’t read much on the Kindle, much of my manuscript reading is on electronic devices. The basic advantage of e-reading is the back light because as you grow older, your eyesight gets a little dubious. I find reading with a backlight is slightly easier than reading on yellow pages. Plus, you can turn pages so easily. Given my appreciation for new technology in reading and writing, and all such conveniences, I think it is paradoxical that I like thick fat books too.

Muzaffar Ali, designer and filmmaker

I like the feeling of holding a book in my hands and therefore, don’t use a Kindle. I’m not a voracious reader either. But it is definitely something that I would be thinking about buying soon.

Urvashi Butalia, publisher and writer

Many years ago, in the early days of the Kindle, a friend gifted me one. I passed it on to my young nephew who read and read on it and ran it into the ground till it was of no use. I have never owned a Kindle and have read a digital book only once on my iPad, and never again. I read a lot, but only in print. I’m not against reading on a tablet or a Kindle, it’s just that I have not got around to buying one. There’s no pressure, one day perhaps I will, but in the meanwhile, I am more than content to read printed books, there’s no pleasure quite like that! You know, sometimes you can be quite tech friendly, as I am, but not want to be up with all the latest stuff. I guess that is how it is for me.

Arundhathi Subramaniam, writer

Writer-poet Arundhathi Subramaniam at the launch of one of her books. (Hindustan Times file photo)

I don’t use a Kindle, and I’m afraid it’s the old-fashioned and unoriginal reason: familiarity. I like the smell and texture of books. They look nicer on the shelves. And there’s the nostalgia value too: leafing through books and rediscovering a flyleaf inscription from an old friend, for instance. Or finding a poem I’ve marked or made a note about in the margins. But I don’t want to sound like a creaky fossil either. I will probably at some point explore the possibility of the Kindle -- although maybe later than most people, as is often the case with most things I do! I’m drawn to the idea of being able to increase font size, especially now that I sometimes need reading glasses. And I like the idea of being able to read without having the lights on. Two big incentives!

Rakshanda Jalil, writer

I don’t’ use a Kindle. The amount of online reading I do on Facebook or the internet seems more than enough. When it comes to a book, I’d much rather buy it or take it from a library. I like the physicality of a book and moreover, everything can’t possibly be available on a Kindle. Almost all my reading feeds my work, whether it is for review or research. I’ve become this boring person who seldom reads for leisure or pleasure. I think the kind of reading done by a person dictates the medium. So I think if somebody wants to read a bestseller, they will easily find it on the Kindle but more subject-specific academic and research-oriented reading may not be facilitated on the Kindle but can be found in a library. I admit, I haven’t looked extensively at their range. But my sense is that it mostly covers popular reading. If the Kindle goes onto expand its scope, I might see myself buying one.

Manu Joseph, writer

Manu Joseph at a literature festival. (Hindustan Times file photo)

I never bought a Kindle but downloaded the Kindle software on my Apple devices. I read almost all my books except a few physical books that I receive as gifts on my iPad. I don’t remember my first book on the Kindle. Actually my first digital book was on iBooks -- the Apple equivalent of Kindle. But then Kindle books are a lot of cheaper and it is somehow very easy to buy on Amazon so I moved to the Kindle even though I found the iBooks experience more beautiful.

I love the Kindle and I particularly like the freedom to carry my entire library with me wherever I go. I also like the feature on Kindle books that lets you know the lines or passages other readers have highlighted. This feature also informs us that most readers give up fast on most highly acclaimed books. Thomas Piketty’s ‘Capital’ has a majority of reader highlights in the first 50 pages. Generally, I find this romanticism of physical books a bit annoying. A book is a book. But I have seen very honest people indulge in it, so maybe I am missing some faculty.

Ashwin Sanghi, writer

Ashwin Sanghi at the 2016 Jaipur Literature Festival. (Hindustan Times)

The first book I read on Kindle was Sherlock Holmes The Complete Stories. This was in 2009. My Kindle experience has been in two phases, the first was when I was using the Kindle device and now I use the app on my iphone. While I enjoy the feel of a physical book, much of my reading happens on my travels. And I have a habit of switching between books. It’s not easy to carry so many books with me, so having them on Kindle is easier. Also, when I am researching for my own writing, I prefer to read on the Kindle because then I can annotate, mark out passages and do a word and text search. But when I want a book for my collection, I still order both the physical book and the Kindle version, so that I can have it on my book shelf.

First Published: Nov 19, 2017 00:29 IST