Books have always been the best of friends for me. As a child, reading Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe meant escapism from textbooks and nitty-gritty of physics, mathematics and chemistry.

Thanks to digital technology, many turn to reading the books available in soft copy. I am an exception though. Hardcover and paperback still give me greater pleasure and offer me more luxuries than PDF books or ebooks.

How? Firstly, I don’t have to rely on a gadget or wi-fi to read a book in the printed form. A hard copy is soft on my eyes. I feel no eyestrain when I am reading a bedtime story in print. As I flip through its pages, it transports me to the dale of slumber at my own ease.

Paper books make annotation simpler. I can easily add footnotes to their pages and flag noteworthy sections with bookmarks of my favourite colour. As experts say, paper books make one retain heart-melting quotes, crisp sentences and novel expressions for a longer duration.

Ashir Ahmed, a college student and avid reader, opines, “A printed version makes reading handy. Often, I cannot finish the chapter of a book in one go. So, I dog-ear the pages to remember from where to start my reading journey once again.”

Another booklover, Sidharath, shares his unique experience with regard to paper books. “I don’t have to wait for the first monsoon rain to smell petrichor. I get the same scent from the pages of a book.”

If I had been relying on e-books to satiate my reading craze, I would have missed the joy of a stroll with my father to the book bank near my home.

Book exchange websites cannot outshine paper-book-swapping. Digital book-swapping multiplies my screen time and cocoons myself in the study room. Conversely, swapping paper books makes me socialise and win new friends. As I barter books with other bibliophiles, I get introduced to the world of authors and genres that I have not explored before.

A demerit of e-books is that you cannot use them as decoration pieces. Paper books, arranged in a shelf in apple-pie order, add neatness to the ambience of a place. They not only catch attention of a bookworm, but also the appeal an average onlooker.

The pith and marrow of the discussion is whether you are reading to broaden your vision, to become an interesting conversationalist or just to kill time, books in print remain a more suitable option.

That does not imply a boycott against e-books. When the hard copy of a publication that you want to read has been sold out, or it’s not available in a library, it’s time to go digital. Visit, digitally, online libraries to download rare books in PDF format and get to read according to your taste.

Have a fun-filled reading time, whether it is on paper or on the screen!

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 5th, 2021

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