Books go a long way back in history, to the time when paper wasn’t even invented (or at least, reading and writing was). When it came around to paper books, it was a revolution. Knowledge spread, and so did books and reading. Publication houses opened up and bang! A whole new industry, all about books! I haven’t done any fact survey, but I’m pretty sure they did really well. I kind of love this industry, not just because it’s book-related (though that is a reason) but also because the whole process of creating a book seems magical and fascinating to me. (If anybody’s interested, I’d love to work in the publication industry! :P)
I’m a bit worried though, if the rate at which things are now going is any indication. I mean, the first thing I came to know when I returned home from a
stupidly-useless day in college was that Penguin
and Random House are merging to become one entity. Not that I’m against it, I am
happy. I’ve always admired both these publishing houses, what with all
those great books they come out with. But I have to admit my first reaction was
slight disappointment. So instead of going, ‘Whoa! That’s great!’ as my parents
expected (when they gave me the news), I went, ‘What? But why?’
They say it’s because there’s a decline in sales of books, thanks to the boom and increasing preference for e-books. That’s kind of sad, if I were to quote my personal opinion. I mean, removing all emotion aside, how do you dream of a world where there are no books? I can’t. I’d rather die. Seriously. If not, I’d die of boredom anyway! Even if people are not book maniacs like me, they’d still have at least some preference for paperbacks? How can you miss out on the thrill a reallyyy old book you find in the store room or attic gives you? Or the delight of seeing those volumes set on a shelf, gleaming and torn, old and new, paperbacks and hard-covers, tilting your head to read the spines, using your index finger to pull the book out? Just imagining a time where people will only have e-books gives me the shudders.
|I cannot do this with an e-book, can I?|
No, that’s not going to come true for some centuries at least, I think. (Am I hoping for too much?) But still, what’s with the decline? And it’s not just because of e-readers or reading apps on PCs/Laptops. It’s because of piracy, too. A book can easily be available on the internet, if you’re smart enough to find the right thing. Talking only about people in my city (and country) and I’m not generalizing, because I know all of us don’t do that, but it is a fact that many don’t like spending a lot on buying books. (Not that it increases libraries, or memberships there, in any case). Apart from the obsessed like me (and let me remind you, it’s not much appreciated either, being obsessed, I mean. But whatever), many go for cheap copies available with the redhi walas, for less than half the price, the only problem with them being the poor paper quality, which they don't seem to mind. Or for pirated books off the net.
Which is where I start feeling uneasy. I’d admit I tried finding a book too, when I couldn’t seem to find it at a reasonable rate, but I gave up after a few minutes of searching. It wasn’t right. But people do it, right? Apart from the obvious reason of saving money, I cannot find any other factor. And I don’t want to start about the differences in paperbacks and e-books and which is better and all that. It’s already been talked about a lot. I got a Kindle myself, but that’s not because I do not like paperbacks. I prefer them any day; in fact I haven’t been able to read more than two books on the Kindle anyway, thanks to its need for wifi, which I don’t have at home yet. Besides, I got that only for the Amazon freebies that I’d been reading on the Kindle app on my laptop before. Those books are like ‘quick, fast and light’ reads for me. Somehow I’ve never been able to think of them as ‘books’.
Anyway, with the new Penguin Random House projected to be the biggest publisher (sounds mighty!), I’m also very happy to know that one out of every four books would be from this publishing unit, according to an article in www.guardian.co.uk. But even then, it’s not exactly comforting to know that two great publishing houses are now one. The numbers are dwindling and it’s kind of scary. I love you paperbacks, and I hope you’d be there forever! :)
PS- This is probably the first ever post on this blog that isn’t a book review or a meme. I know that’s pretty sad and I think by now, those reviews-only posts ‘might’ just have made it monotonous. I blame my first blog, which pretty much carries my life’s
weird stories and that's where I ramble when I’m either frustrated bored or emotionally charged up. Whatever pertained to books, I kept it here and now that I realize, I’ve never actually posted anything off the topic, or anything I’ve written randomly. This isn’t a post to deliberately break that norm either, but I did feel a lot about this issue and wanted to talk about it.
Any views? What do you feel?