I’m not quite sure what others may have to say about online books , but my feelings on the subject are clear, simple and straight forward: Give me a real, solid book any day, one that I can hold in my hand and feel; virtual reality just isn’t my kind of thing, I want to see my books in the real world, in one sweeping glance on a mahogany bookshelf, in my study perhaps, so comforting, reassuring and so inviting. Otherwise, I suppose the next best place for them would be the library, where there would be books stacked from floor to ceiling in endless rows. Ah, what an overwhelming and heart-warming sight; very much similar to what a lost traveler, hopelessly staggering about in the desert would feel, on suddenly finding an oasis in the middle of nowhere.
But let me assure Generation Y that I have nothing against these ‘digital diehards’. Let just say that it’s all right for people to slip into their own kind of world, as and when they like – real or virtual. But like I said before, it’s just not my thing. For me online books or for that matter an ebook download is like walking into a surgical ward, where everything is shiny and squeaky-clean and yet so cold and impersonal. I suppose that’s because these youngsters have grown up differently, learning to handle cellphones, tablets as thumb-sucking toddlers.
Perhaps, free ebooks download would be just the thing for these kids. But give me a real book or a library. As a fourth grader in Lucknow, I remember the visits to the British Council Library, on top of the Mayfair Cinema Hall, in Hazratganj, with Mum or Dad. I would just gape in wide-eyed wonder looking at those mountains of books. All I could think of was how long it would take me to read all those books? I didn’t know whether that was possible. But I had to give it a try, so I started going there almost every day. It wasn’t too difficult really, because I lived in Lawrence Terrace; just a short distance away, behind Hazratganj.