Opinion | Off the Cuff

Why I don’t read a book anymore

There are tonnes of fascinating things you can do with a tablet that I haven’t had the time to download any e-book

  • By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 October 17, 2012
  • Gulf News

I finally went out to buy a Kindle e-reader after days and days of research on the internet and came back home with an iPad instead.

It was a no-brainer wanting to get the Kindle; it was cheaper than an iPad, the features were similar, expect that it did not have cameras for Skype, which didn’t matter as I hardly get on to this very cheap phone network. And I didn’t need to play online games, as that’s not my thing.

I found that the e-reader was not backlit, making it easier on the eye and that it can be read indoors or in the blazing light outdoors. This was important for me as I look at a computer screen for most of the time and it gives me double vision at the end of the day.

I even found out by surfing through blogs of some very clever geeks on how to trick its virtual book retailer into believing that I was in some other country so that I could access its full library online. (Incidentally, I have found that Cnet.com is the best place to get a review of any geeky stuff in the market).

The reason why I wanted an e-reader was also obvious, as I like to read a lot. I read dog-eared women’s magazines while waiting for my turn on the barber chair. I read ancient magazines on horses at the dentist clinic and even read the calorie information on a cereal box when having my breakfast.

The first time I saw an e-reader was at the Emirates literature festival some years ago. Standing in a hall stacked with books and with people rustling pages of paperbacks, I saw this girl reading, a bit self-consciously, from a thin tablet in her hands. Nobody paid her any attention because book fanatics are a different breed.

“There’s nothing like the feel of a book in your hands; the smell of the ink and the crackle of the pages,” book readers will usually wax eloquent about the real thing over the virtual.

Many authors, artists and sportsmen have deep feelings for the real book: “Books had instant replay long before televised sports,” said Bernie Williams, a Major League Baseball player. “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book”, Groucho Marx, actor and comedian is supposed to have said that. “A book is a gift you can open again and again,” said Garrison Keillor, an American writer and broadcaster.

It is said that when you see something you like, you should buy it immediately, not come back for it some other day. I have learned that lesson after many a shopping expedition with my wife. When I walked into the electronics store, holding tightly to my new platinum Visa card and determined to get the Kindle I had seen earlier, I found the price had shot up and it was now more expensive than an iPad. For some reason, just on that day, there was a world-wide shortage of Kindles.

Buying an iPad was relatively easy. I didn’t have to stand in a queue for hours, or get into a riot like in China. I have never had an iPhone before so this new iPad of mine is a great fun thing. I am literally on icloud! Unfortunately, there are tonnes of fascinating things you can do with this tablet that I haven’t had the time to download any e-book.

The other day, my wife found me at the table, hard at work, and giggled. I had a laptop in front of me. On its keyboard was the tablet and I was furiously typing out an sms on my smartphone.

I don’t think I will ever get the time to read a book again.

Gulf News
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