Growing up, I have always found myself surrounded by all kinds of books – some old and some new. As an ardent reader, I loved the touch of the book and the feel of every page. For me, each book held a different scent that carried the memories of that story.
I always carried a book or two even when I went out shopping. I hated the creases that formed at the idea of a thick book and despised people who folded the corners of any book. I never brought markers near my books, let alone eatables.
There were certain book etiquettes which when broken, I believe even the Gods would never forgive.
Not so long ago, during a summer break, I ran out of books. I’d already re-read most of the collection that I owned and even licked clean the ones that I had borrowed from the library.
Books were a fuel that I thrived upon and a refill was necessary.
I had no choice, except to read one of the virtual books. All I could think of was: How could e-books ever compete to the feeling I get when I visit a bookstore?
I love going to my favourite book-stores and then walking through the different aisles, skimming through each book. I love the feel of paper against my skin while going through each shelf and picking up the books I intend to buy. I love the thrill of choosing different books from different genres and taking the pile to the cash-counter.
Tell me, how could e-books ever compete with all of that? I was hesitant to read a book that was not printed. Call me old-fashioned, but I could not imagine not turning the pages with my fingers.
If I were to depend on e-books alone, I would never want to get out of the comforts of my home. Because I could easily find my favourite books online.
There. I admitted it.
Having your favourite books made available to you, in no time at all – felt like a myth at that time. But ebooks made it all possible.
That is perhaps the biggest gift tech has blessed us with.
The E-book Revolution
The first-ever website that I came across filled with e-books was- Wattpad. I was overjoyed when I read the first story online, without any issues. Needless to say, I read all the books I could get my hands on.
After reading what seems like more than a couple of hundred books online – of all kinds- I have realized that there is so much more than enjoying the happy ride to a bookstore. Sure, e-books can never compete with that thrill, but they have so much more to offer.
For starters, you can increase the font size and read a book with lights out, hidden inside a blanket, without a torch-light. Also, you can easily bookmark a particular page or highlight your favourite quote without the fear of destroying the sacredness of the book. Plus, you can buy them anytime, without worrying whether or not they go out of stock.
Additionally, you don’t have to take a trip to your book-shelf to find the meaning of the word you don’t know. Most of the e-book reading applications have that as an inbuilt feature. All you have to do is- click the word and you have the meaning to it. And the best part of all – you can carry a thousand books in your bag while travelling, without the fear of removing your favourite perfume to fit in another book!
The shift from paper books to e-books was drastic, definitely. There were so many things that I was apprehensive about. But I guess that is a part of human nature – to be scared of the unknown. The introduction of e-books in our lives is no different.
Yes, I can never press a wildflower between the pages of an e-book. But now I don’t have to worry about carrying box number sixteen of books to my car while shifting the next time.
How has the ebook revolution changed your reading experience?
About the Author
Fareeha Arshad is a forager of meaning, a reader by passion, a writer by choice, and a scientist by vocation. The Arab born, confused Desi lives on the Persian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia with her parents and siblings, where she spends most of her time studying, teaching, writing or cooking.