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A boon for bookworms

'Traditional' readers can also appreciate the positive aspects of e-books. PP Wangchuk writes.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2011 20:44 IST
PP Wangchuk
PP Wangchuk
Hindustan Times

The e-book 'wave' is catching up fast. Though I remain loyal to the traditional 'physical' form of books, the knowledge of the benefits of e-book reading recently tempted me to get a 'taste' of the other form. I came across an e-book reader that promises a storage capacity of 10,000 books and costs only a little over Rs6,000. When I told this to a colleague, he said that if I could pay a little more, say Rs9000, I can have a reader that can store 15,000 books. I was so fascinated by the idea that I dashed off to the nearest store.

But on my way to the store, better sense prevailed upon me. My attachment to tangible books is so strong that nothing could force me to make the transition. At least for the time being. Since then I have learned a lot more about the positive aspects of e-books. One can easily download books from websites and get into a happy reading mode for hours. And the good news for readers - though a bad one for authors and publishers - is that an e-book costs less than half the price of its print avatar. Recently, Amazon announced that its website had become a great hit for e-book buyers, whose numbers is slowly growing bigger than those who continue to purchase printed books.

Though the e-book 'business' started about a decade ago, it is just about a year since it has come to capture readers' hearts and minds. And though some websites boast of possessing great collections of e-books, only 10% of the total titles are currently sold in the form of e-books. The rest are available in their printed versions.

A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers in the US, Britain, Netherlands and Germany found out that only 15% people in these countries read 50% or more of all e-books. This means that there is a great scope for expansion. So it won't be surprising if many 'traditional' readers among us ride on the e-book wave in the days to come.

There were reports that JK Rowling, the author of the famous Harry Potter series, has announced that all the seven parts of her series will be available in the e-book form soon - a good news indeed for all book lovers. Whenever it happens, it will help readers enjoy Potter-mania in both the digital and paperback forms, which, in turn, will give a complete experience of reading books.

Be sure that the demand to 'give both' will grow stronger as the digital book industry grows. The ultimate winner of the tough competition among print publishers and their digital counterparts will be the readers. This idea excites readers like me, who are longing to re-read their all-time favourites like A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul, The Circle of Reason and Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh, My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi and The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru. After all, if Pottermore is around the corner, can Gandhimore or Nehrumore be far behind?

First Published: Sep 01, 2011 20:41 IST