No Miracle in Electronic Books

While electronic books might be latest fad, as found in the Harry Potter series, a boy wizard should have been more appreciative of the magic of paperbacks and hard bounds. A book has a special allure and cannot be reduced to mere data. A book is a treasured possession and in many cases a collector’s item. The feel and sensuality of a book can hardly be replaced by the cold, detached screen of an e-book reader.

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A book is much more than a medium for literary content. A reader doesn’t just read a book but forms a relationship with it. Also books are reservoirs of stories, whereas e-books are just platforms of information, the inherent tactile nature of a book helps readers associate better with the contents. Reading the Bhagavat Gita or Bible in book form is an experience that cannot be replicated by their electronic book version. When books are digitized they no longer remain a book, they become interactive multimedia tools and it takes away from the sanctity of the book itself. This is precisely what the digital version of the Harry Potter books will do. The website that will host the e-book will be a mishmash of computer games, social networking and an online store.

Just as the experience of watching a movie in a theater cannot be reproduced by DVD and the movie website, electronic books cannot capture the joys of reading a book. Scrolling through an electronic book is not the same as flipping through the pages of a book. Electronic books merely diminish the key ingredient that makes reading such a pleasure-imagination.

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