Pulp To Pixels: Are eReaders Transforming Our Reading Habits?

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Image Courtesy: photopin.com
Image Courtesy: photopin.com
Image Courtesy: photopin.com

I was at the Palladium at High Street Phoenix over the weekend, window-shopping, mostly, for a lot of things including some cool gadgets at Croma, courtesy this tech freak brother I have. His world shattering confusion between iPhone and Samsung Galaxy led me to just glance around out of boredom and I saw this thing – Kindle eReader from Amazon! Right here in Mumbai.

Marketing giant Amazon took baby steps into the Indian book retail market this year by launching an exclusive India Kindle store in collaboration with Junglee.com and also partnering with Tata group’s electronic retail chain Croma to sell their eReader. This coupled with the news that Harper Collins India is working towards converting 150 titles into eBooks by end of this month and Westland India has made 125 titles available as eBooks, compels a question pop: eBook or paperback?

This is the new mobile vs. landline question amongst readers, authors and publishers alike. Let’s take a look into the equation that is suspended at an indecisive yet reformative stage right now.

Books offer the following advantages:

  1. The feel of turning the pages under the finger; something that can never be matched by the scrolling on a tab or eReader
  2. The fact that even a low battery or power failure can never take away your reading experience
  3. The exhilaration of seeing beautiful book cover jackets lined up in rows in your room
  4. The musky smell of the yellowed pages or the invigorating one of the freshly printed white pages
  5. And finally the social image elation of being seen with a book in hand

eBooks aren’t too behind in their pluses:

  1. The ease of carrying a huge number of books in a few milligrams of the tab
  2. The joy of getting more for less – the financial equation
  3. The contentment of using a greener option in your knowledge quest
  4. The simplicity of getting any book, any time. Search, buy and read – all in a matter of few minutes. No billing queues, no consignment tracking, no delivery anxiety.
  5. The opportunities to read books that are out of circulation via online archives.

While the battle looks evenly matched and poised at this point, the one factor that will have a direct effect on the outcome is the penetration of tablets in the Indian market. According to a survey by Accenture, India has the second highest penetration of tablets globally, with 10% of the respondents owning a tablet and 10% planning to buy one in the next one year. Another report claims that while tablet ownership has doubled in the last year globally, it has quadrupled in India owing to a host of tabs flooding the market including the lead players Apple and Samsung with the Indian government’s Aakash, RIM’s playbook, HCL’s Me tab, Beetal tab and the likes.

What remains to be seen in the coming days is how publishers get their stories across to readers in the e-format, especially the small scale publishers. For small scale publishing houses, the digital platform is the swing to crossover from the traditional retail markets controlled by the big players to reach readers directly. Additionally, the push by tablet manufactures in penetrating the Indian market will also play a big role.

Will paper books become more of ornamental entity and a collectors treasure with the advent of market leaders keen on playing the game they aced in the western markets or will the Indian readers be the game reversers in this crusade of the pulp vs. pixels? We are eager to know what you think?

Have books at home that you have already read and will perhaps never read again? You can donate them and share the gift of knowledge with someone who will appreciate it. Know more about Gyaanexchange’s All India Book Donation Drive here!

Post By Reshmy Pillai (16 Posts)

Story seeker - anytime, anyplace; after all stories are not always necessarily found in books. Chain reader, writer, blogger, books reviewer.

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Reshmy Pillai

Reshmy Pillai
Story seeker - anytime, anyplace; after all stories are not always necessarily found in books. Chain reader, writer, blogger, books reviewer.