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Focus: Printed vs e-books

As the sales of e-books overtake paperbacks in the US, we decided to ask Gulf News readers whether e-books are changing the way people read. While reading habits have plummeted across the board, whether of adults or children, will e-books be able to replace printed books and bring back the habit of reading? Join the debate.

  • Image Credit:
  • Lodhi Azmat AllahSecretary working inDubaiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Salim MohammadImage Credit: Supplied
  • Prachiti TalathiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Gulf News reader Sandhya Shetty Image Credit: Karen Dias/Gulf News
  • Anastasia MankhaevaImage Credit: Anastasia Mankhaeva
Gulf News

11:05 Anastasia Mankhaeva: I read e-books as well as physical books. E-books are convenient especially when you’re travelling.

11:05 Sandhya Shetty: Even before I could read the first page of an e-book I realised it was not my cup of tea. Call me primitive, but there is nothing like the exuberating experience of reading a paperback.

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11:06 Prachiti Talathi: I read e-books. They are easy to carry and read wherever you are. Just download a book and read it, even if it is on your smart phone. But, I agree with Sandhya – there is nothing like reading printed books.

11:07 Anastasia Mankhaeva: Nothing beats holding a paperback in your hands though. But for the sake of convenience, I’d rather have my Kindle with me, filled with many books, than several paperbacks as these take up more space in the luggage.

11:09 Salim Mohammad: Anatasia, it is true that e-books are convenient while travelling and are used to lessen the burden of carrying multiple books. But people are used to the feel of printed books more than e-books.

11:11 Lodhi Azmat Allah: Yes, reading e-books is more convenient, but not for everyone. Every individual cannot have a laptop, iPad and computer. I understand that new technology is on the rise and people want to make things paperless. But then, both printed and e-books should be made available.

11:11 Anastasia Mankhaeva: I still enjoy quiet evenings or nights at home curled up with a paperback. We’re so connected to gadgets and technology that it’s getting harder to just relax at home with a book. We seem to be too busy.

11:11 Prachiti Talathi: Though everyone here is in favour of physical books, we cannot ignore the fact that the sale of e-books is increasing. E-books are available right at your fingertips. You can read any book by any author, sitting anywhere. You don’t have to go to a book shop to buy a book or to order one by a particular author.

11:13 Anastasia Mankhaeva: Salim, I agree, that’s why I still prefer paperback books. As a book club organiser, we have people who read both. It is easier to lend a book to each other than a Kindle. That’s what people do in our meetings. The ones who travel a lot obviously prefer the Kindle. Books are cheaper and faster to access. Here, some physical books can be costly, especially new releases in hard cover.

11:14 Sandhya Shetty: Some years ago, with no gadgets in place, our years growing up were filled with comics or magazines and anything that you could get your hand on to read. Thanks to our lifestyles today, we have more wires around us than books. This little ‘me time’ flipping through a book can give you your personal space without having to worry about the battery dying out.

11:16 Apoorva Arya: I have read both e-books and printed ones, but I prefer the latter. They are much more comfortable to handle and put less strain on our eyes. Though, I also agree with the fact that e-books are more convenient while travelling.

11:16 Anastasia Mankhaeva: Here’s the thing, and it might be a bit of a side track, but do people read nowadays? I’ve found that some in my book club haven’t had the time to catch up on their reading because their life is too busy with work and other commitments and distractions. Do children read? Most prefer playing video games or what have you, instead of reading books. It seems books are still for ‘geeks’, but could it be that children hate reading because they are forced to read at school? I do see younger people more into Manga and other comic books. Shorter attention span of the youth, perhaps?

11:19 Prachiti Talathi: Anastasia, I agree with your concern. Nowadays, I hardly find children discussing books. Instead, they discuss the new video games. Are we, as parents, falling short of cultivating the habit of reading in our children?

11:21 Salim Mohammad: Yes, we all are too busy. Reading is for relaxation, so if there is no time for relaxation how are we going to spend time reading? Take an example of people in Western countries - have you seen how they make time in their life for reading? Even the little moments, when they are on a bus, in a coffee shop or even while waiting for the bus – they open a book and start reading. I really admire that habit as it teaches us that there is no time to be wasted, and each and every time you read, you gain something.

11:21 Apoorva Arya: Children have lost interest in reading. As Anastasia said, they would prefer to play video games rather than read books. But very truly, the Harry Potter series proved to be the only exception!

11:22 Sandhya Shetty: I think children emulate us in a way. They are watching their parents. If you encourage good reading, they sure will. I don’t mind my children starting off with comics and gradually moving to things they would like to read … anything to get them off gadgets. Though honestly, gadgets have taken an important place in our lives.

11:22 Anastasia Mankhaeva: I don’t think it’s the writers, it’s more the people. TwitBookClub has a range of members from various walks of life and backgrounds; they all love reading across genres, old, new, classics, etc. Those in college would rather hang out, ‘poke’ each other on Facebook and party than read. But is it parental responsibility to get children to want to read again?

11:23 Gulf News: Will printed books inevitably become extinct and be replaced by printed books?

11:24 Prachiti Talathi: Due to cost and storage factors, the future will be for e-books and that is a bitter truth. Physical books will be there and people will read them, but they will choose e-books over printed ones.

11:24 Anastasia Mankhaeva: Few years ago, e-books weren’t as popular. Even three years ago, in our monthly meetings, everyone had physical books. Now, we have a few members with iPads and Kindles talking about books they read on those.

11:24 Sandhya Shetty: I can bet on anything that while e-books have their wow-factor and convenience, paper books are here to stay.

11:25 Anastasia Mankhaeva: I don’t think physical books will die out. Many years ago people had said the newspaper will die out. But even after the radio and TV came along, print newspapers are still there. I don’t think that’s changing. Similarly, physical books will always be around. Not everybody in the world is connected to technology or has access to e-books. For some, that is still a luxury and it will remain so. Physical books are more convenient. I love browsing through book shops and leafing through books. We need to get children to read more... to want to read more.

11:30 Salim Mohammad: The only advantage which I think the electronic gadget has is that it lessens the weight of having a big book or multiple books. We can just turn quickly to the chapter we need in an easy way. But I still prefer the printed book and it is always good to have one. I recently read a book, The 3 Mistakes of my Life, which was phenomenal.

11:31 Apoorva Arya: In my opinion, printed books can never be replaced by e-books. The touch of paper while reading is one of the essential factors that makes reading all the more enjoyable. They have that personal touch unlike e-books. Besides, everyone does not have access to technology to read e-books.

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor


Gulf News asked: What do you prefer to read?

E-books 25%

Printed books 58%

I don’t read books 17%


Gulf News asked: What do you prefer to read?

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