One hand in the purse and plenty of misgivings

by Ahalya on October 9, 2009

I am not a gadget person. I only use what I need and do not keep in touch with the latest gizmos and their innumerable updates.

Except when it comes to e-readers. So, I bit my lip and read the article announcing the impending launch of the Kindle in India on Oct 18. Damn, just when I was saving my money for my retirement home. So the new e-reader brought out by Mama Amazon is already a bad boy in the e-reader market. With the considerable clout that Mama Amazon wields, the Kindle is not leveling the playground, it purchased it lock, stock and barrel and turned it upside down and makes all the rules. So, personally, since I don’t like bullies, I would settle for the underdog Sony Reader, the Iliad, or somesuch, but they seem to be taking an awful lot of time deciding what they want to do or if they want to do it in my corner of the world. Meethil, in his article Rekindle Reading with the Kindle has all the need-to-know information covered up tight, so I am not going there. Dammit that man has a very well thought out argument for e-readers. Especially that part where he says the publishing industry will be influenced by e-readers and that paperbacks will become cheaper.

red_sony_readerThis gadget has brought me to my knees. I know I don’t like it, I know I won’t be very careful with it, but dammit it will save me money and it will keep me occupied during my long commutes to and from work and while I visit my farflung relatives. I am still pretty confused about what I am doing. Especially since we have already discussed e-readers. I have already agreed with you about the ‘unnecessity’ of e-readers, and that e-readers may be as environmentally harmful as they say books are. So, I am still mulling over this one.

But, I think I will be buying it, but only as a backup library. I am pretty sure that paper is not going out of fashion any time during my life. I have heard several arguments for and against e-readers, the most important, maybe the only argument that matters is that it replaces the reading exprience and that experience is sacrosanct. It’s in our DNA you don’t mess with the way we read. I agree. So why would I buy the Kindle? 4 reasons:
1. Rs 450. For new books that are usually in the 600-800 range, this is a steal.
2. Portability: I have a bad back and can’t carry heavy loads, but I have extremely long commutes (3 hours one way) this will help me utilise my time
3. New books. For someone who doesn’t have a library close to home, I spend an awful lot of time making up lists of books I want to have, and then I wait for a sale to come my way, and comb my way through each book, list in hand, finding what I came for. With an e-reader, i don’t have to do that. New books, magazines and newspapers are at my beck and call.
4. Anti-piracy: I am hoping that reading becomes a more honest habit. With cheaper versions available, I am hoping people don’t buy cheap photocopied versions from the footpath seller. A second-hand book is ok, but a cheap paper, cheap ink photocopy is a kick in the author’s sometimes painfully unsatisfied tummy.Amazon-Kindle-2-Pictures

It will take at least a year for the e-reader to make practical sense in India. I will continue to buy my books the traditional way (read, second-hand, or on sale) for Rs 10-250. But for some strange reason I am hesistant about missing this bandwagon. I am not sure I should let this Kindle go.

I am sure e-readers make the act of buying and reading books easier. the only thing that worries me is if i am being disloyal to books if I do this. I know that I will a) be reading more, b) not be wasting my money if I buy an ‘experiment’, because I read the first chapter for free, c) get books as and when I want them (without waiting for a convenient day) and without needing to wait for the price to fall.

Will go and stand in the crowd and crane my neck to find anything that tips the balance :/

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Vandana Karve October 11, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Well now that you mention it, I guess I need to rethink my prejudice against e-readers. Like all hard core hard and paperback readers, I scorned the launch of e- readers because I felt I would be untrue to my first true love – the thrill of holding freshly printed paper in my hand. But now that you mention it perhaps it is more eco friendly to read on one of those thingies. And is it really that cheap?!! I have been debating for the past few days how I was going to initiate my son into reading. Ok so he is only 7 months old, so we have a long time to go.. But one can’t be too early planning the important stuff can one?!! Well, of course he is going to start with paper. But as he grows older, he might also prefer books on the go or something fancy like that… So after all that dilly dallying- what have I finally decided… maybe wait and watch for a while…

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kunal October 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm

freshly printed paper :))) this i wonder when i last did… even some of my collage books were second hand[ or third or fourth etc] and the rest…wel i didnt have the rest 🙂
fort…people…fort…go there and thou shall find the land of books 🙂 second hand in good condition too 🙂

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