When I first bought a Kindle device, it seemed like this tech was a game changer. it still does (to some degree, of course). One device to satisfy all of my book-reading needs. I was essentially carrying an entire library on my backpack. I literally had to save money to buy a Kindle back then since I was in college. But it was worth it. And since, I had put so much effort into buying the Kindle, that added an extra layer of attachment. I thought this is the best thing an avid bibliophile can ask for.
A few days ago I revisited my bookshelf, took off some old paperbacks and turned some pages around. And I kid you not, I can’t tell you how much I had missed that old, coal fiery kind of smell welcoming me when I started reading something. That made me wonder, was my switch to Kindle really worth it?
Why switch to Kindle?
Well, no kidding, I love the smell of paperbacks. And I haven’t seen anybody else who doesn’t, so I think I won’t be judged. The first thing I do before reading a book is smell it. However, when I was out, I used to carry my books around and that added an extra layer of luggage and sometimes when books were thick AF, carrying them in hand was extremely inconvenient.
I try to keep my belongings as minimal as possible so that I can have a convenient life in as little as possible. All those things obviously points towards buying an eBook reader and there isn’t an eBook reader which is as cheap and as efficient as a Kindle (Sorry Kobo, No hard feelings now, after two years). So, as much as I hate to be in an ecosystem, I thought this was a good tradeoff to make between convenience of reading ebooks and a bit of Amazon ecosystem.
Back to Paper’back’??
Yes. While I was too involved reading books in the e-book reader to accommodate as little of anything possible, I underestimated the experience Paperbacks have to offer! I remember when I was too much into Paperbacks, I used to spend my time organizing my shelf, going through the highlights, reading the notes and much more. But with the e-book reader, all those happen automagically in the software.
I have understood that no matter how much technology evolves to accommodate and represent real world entities in software, there are certainly losses we suffer which we get used to, given enough time. That doesn’t necessarily mean, the technology has just made our lives easier by reducing and easing out complex tasks. Sometimes there is some amount of joy and fun getting involved in that complexity. It’s up to us to figure out where we would rather lead to.
And there are certainly pressing (philosophical, kinda) questions such as, “Technology has the capability to make impossible, possible. And amidst this endless ocean of opportunities, are we really making our lives better or worse? If we can make our lives better, how?” These are the kind of questions I ponder with. And this organic feeling of Paperbacks have made me realize that not all digital technology touches lives, they just make it convenient and easier.