A whole new story!

The way we read has changed… Now you can carry hundreds of books around without having to cart a load.

Norbert Rego reports – TIMES NEWS NETWORK

TECHNOCRAT Harpreet Sapra has an enviable bookshelf, but it’s all on her iPad. She doesn’t feel the need to buy any magazines or books as they are all available for download. Freelance writer Prasad Naik explains his love for eBooks, “The iBooks app has a lovely bookshelf for displaying your eBooks along with page-turning animations. And I don’t have to save hard copies of articles that I might like to revisit.”

Today, the way we consume information is changing. And literature is no exception. Says author Himani Dalmia, “There will be literary apps that allow us to engage with the characters further, poetry apps that will teach us how to read Eliot, and networking sites that encourage us to discuss what we have read with others from around the globe. Our reading habits will change and, yes, the face of literature will change.”

In 10 or 15 years, books and bookshelves will have largely disappeared. Literary culture will no doubt be replaced by different types of media culture and sad as the death of literature may seem, this is not unprecedented.

Nick Ingelbrecht, research director, consumer insight, Gartner says, “Whether Tolstoy would have written War and Peace on a wattpad for iPhone is to some extent irrelevant if 21st century readers lack the interest to ever read such a large volume of text on such a small screen. That is the concern about the future of literature, because if people do not regularly read large amounts of text (whether on screen or paper), there will be less and less demand for and interest in literary culture.”

Quick fix of literature
This does not in any way mean that the quality of literature will diminish. States Dalmia, “There will simply be a transition into another medium and another mode of consuming — as has already happened in the past when we moved from oral traditions to written, and from handwritten manuscripts stored in libraries to ubiquitous books made possible through the printing press. Good stories will always remain and we will always be attracted to them.”

Today, many gadgets and gizmos allow us to get a ‘quick fix’ of literature. Stephanie Mantello of Amazon.com tells us, “Kindle changes the way you read. You can do lots of things which you couldn’t do with a physical book. Think of a book, and have it, ready to read, in less than 60 seconds.”

V K Karthika, publisher, HarperCollins India says, “We are definitely looking to sell the eBook r i g h t s . At present, we do not p u b l i s h any books digitally, but we will work towards this end over the next couple of years. It will take a few years to catch on in India.”

And now T S Eliot’s The Waste Land leads the iPad app chart and has everybody talking about it. We are in the era of convergence and the literature landscape is changing with the times. The Internet has made possible the seismic shift of printed paper text into digital format, suitable for screen-based consumption.

A Gartner global research shows that today, people in developed countries spend nearly as much time reading text on screen as they do on printed paper text. This change has occurred in the space of a single generation. Such a rapid adoption of screen reading comes in spite of evidence that today, many people find reading text on screen harder than reading on paper. “Just as Sophocles’ reservations about the dangers of the oral tradition being overtaken by the written word 2,400 years ago did nothing to slow the transition to writing, the replacement of printed text with screen images (including text) signifies a shift of similar monumental proportions, in which human knowledge will be re-embodied and re-shaped by screen-based modes of transmission,” adds Ingelbrecht. Classical musician Amaan Ali Khan travels a lot abroad for his shows. “While waiting for the flight or at the hotel or in between meetings, I am on my iPad and connect to the news sites and read a good book. I think it’s a boon to be connected to all the happenings in the world.”

Read and tweet
Carrying around hardbound books proved to be very cumbersome for Gautam Odrani, who works for a broking firm. “I started using eBook apps on my Creative tablet and now I can simultaneously tweet from the tablet about what I’m reading.”

Actor Samir Soni has an iPad but doesn’t use it to read books. He orders them from Amazon.com. “Technology is a boon because it has made the written word far more accessible and economical as it does away with middlemen and the cost of paper, etc. The avid reader will read regardless of the medium but the coming generations, with the choices available to them, may never experience the simple pleasures of being tucked in bed and reading a book,” says Soni. As long as it means more power to books and bookworms, nobody’s complaining!

From print to screen

  • The Amazon store now has more than 360,000 books plus newspapers and magazines that you can download and read on your Kindle e-book reader.
  • An Internet source says Amazon has inked a deal with the UK’s British Library to make some 65,000 out-of-print books from the 19th century available as free downloads on its Kindle or for sale as paperbacks via a print-on-demand service.
  • Twitter and Facebook integration on Kindle means millions of customers can share their love of reading instantly with their network of family and friends, and in turn, help them discover new authors, new books, and new ideas.
  • Kindle has also established an iPhone application called Kindle for iPhone.
  • Even on an iPad, you can install Kindle and Barnes & Noble apps for more books.
  • iPad is backed by a large collection of books on the iBookstore and it even supports ePub and PDF files.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab consumers can access over two million eBooks, 3,000 magazines and 1,600 newspapers in English and vernacular languages.
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