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Using the ‘new’ without losing the ‘old’

According to our readers, physical books are not going anywhere

  • Monisha KrishnaImage Credit:
  • Guneet Singh RajpalImage Credit:
  • Dana Ghaleb JaberImage Credit:
Gulf News


To read or not to read, should never even be a question. But what medium should be used to read? Now that’s a whole other story.

With e-books, reading apps and audiobooks so readily available, it has become a much more complicated process than simply picking up a paperback.

But for Gulf News readers, physical books are still the way to go.

According to an article published in UK-based The Guardian newspaper, in 2016, the sale of physical books outperformed e-books, with a four per cent increase in just the UK alone.

Dubai resident Monisha Krishna said that while she uses Kindle, an e-book reader, when she travels, she still prefers physical books.

The Indian national said: “I think the experience of reading a book is very different. Some people like to highlight certain lines or scribble in the margins and you can’t do that when reading something electronically. Also, what about the smell of the pages of a new book? It is a part of the reading process that is missing when technology comes in the way.”

She added that while both means can coexist without either one replacing the other, going to a bookstore and scanning the shelves is missing when technology is used.

Guneet Singh Rajpal, a university student, commends the digital age for creating more “innovative ways to encourage people to read.”

But when it comes to reading comic books or graphic novels, the Dubai resident said e-books are an absolute ‘no’. He said: “The artwork in graphic novels is a lot better in the form of paper, and the books become collectibles that you can keep.”

Listening to audiobooks has opened up a whole other sense to literature. English actor and director Jim Dale is known as the voice of Harry Potter, because he has narrated the entire series, creating a whole new way to experience the magic of the books.

According to US-based research company Edison Research, the sale of audiobooks in the US and Canada jumped 21 per cent in 2015, and is continuing to grow.

However, Ajman resident Dana Jaber doesn’t think audiobooks have a growing popularity in the UAE, despite opportunities to listen to books on the metro or when stuck in traffic.

The Iraqi-Canadian national said: “I am not an auditory learner, and sometimes the way they pronounce the words, there is a disconnect. I have some friends who like audiobooks
but they find it to be quite expensive — almost Dh120 more than a regular book.”

Jaber thinks such advancements are helpful to those with visual disabilities, and has opened many doors for them. But she still prefers a book in her hand.

She said: “Having books as possessions is a physical reminder that one has contributed to the journey the book has taken, as well as made a relationship with the author.”

—By Shreya Bhatia, Reader
Interactivity Journalist