Tuesday, May 08, 2012

eReading and eHearing

Are we letting the technology run our lifes? Are we sprucing up ourselves, thinking and voicing our thoughts in such a way that in the virtual world we have many a friend? We play with playstations. We sing with karaoke. We read on Kindle. We replaced pen with keyboard. We share info via social media. We protest via social media. So are we embracing technology just a little too much? This is the question that came to my mind after reading this article about ebooks. If you read this paragraph, then you can decide whether my question has any merit or its just a  babble of a paranoid, techno-illiterate person.
In an effort to underline the uniqueness of the physical book, many publishing houses have begun placing more emphasis on well-designed books — at least for the most prominent literary books on their list. It’s just a matter of time before publishing houses start exploring the many – and unusual – possibilities of ebook design. There are already sites that release editions of Rushdie and Garcia Marquez novels with sound effects, and some of the indie publishing houses are focusing on creative typography, understanding instinctively that the ebook also opens up possibilities that the plain printed page can’t match.
Books with sound effects? Incredible. What next? Would digital books in future carry instead of just illustrations visual effects? Or better still, the story acted out by the best and the worst of the film and tele-industry? That way you won't have to work up your mind constructing the people, the place described by the writer. Just imagine reading God of Small Things on Kindle with all the Kerala scenery duly picturised for you, and may be sponsored by the tourism department of the God's Own Country and the traditional Kathakalai all night performances so richly described by Ms Roy in the story of among other things, the twins, who among other things, break love laws. Do you like the idea? But I wonder how these over-zealous publishers would be able to give you the smell and the taste of Kerala that she so masterfully turned in to words? Or they will put ebook of GWTW along with the film version as a package to woo readers. Methinks generally movie version of any good novel is never as good as the novel. This includes GWTW.    
I should admit that I have not read a full length digitised novel or any bulky book though I am not against it. Short stories, yes. Essays, yes. Short fiction of about 50-75 pages, yes. But not a novel. So I don't know the feel of it. I know it would be very convenient to carry them around while travelling. Only reason I have not yet completed Guha's IAG is because its so huge and hence one cannot carry it around. You have to put it on a table and read it like old people read Bhagavad gita placed on that, I don't know what its called, small reading desk kind of a thing. So in such cases ebooks will definitely help. But if it comes with sound effects/visual effects and may be arguments and counterarguments about things stated in the book then it would not be fun. Because you will end up as just a receiver in the end. When you read any thing you usually undergo what the writer himself might have undergone while writing it i.e visualise the content wherever possible and necessary. And also start a dialogue with the writer in your mind, which is a good thing in my opinion. But if the ebook offers you everything then it puts an end to that process. Anyway everything has its own merits and demerits. Its for us to choose. But then what I found inconvenient about reading digitised thing is that you cannot easily mark or make a note alongside whatever you are reading. It requires effort. May be Kindle has already come out with something to solve this problem. I don't know. 

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