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Where have all the book lovers gone?

First came the e-books, then came the Vooks and somewhere in the middle of all that most young’uns forgot the real things – books. JAM looks around and finds a whole generation of people who have abandoned reading for pleasure

Groucho Marx once famously said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” But as we are inundated with more and more alternatives to books, people who read for pleasure are becoming more and more rare. We spoke to people from all walks of life and found most could count the number of books they had read on the fingers of one hand and still have some to spare. Here’s their story…

Chinmay Trivedi, 27, Quality Analyst, Web Developer
I can easily count the number of books he has read in my lifetime. They roughly sum up to 7 or 8 books. The size of the book matters. I am wary of reading big novels. I cannot bring myself to read something that is 400 pages or more. I prefer reading a lot of humour and sci-fi. I did try reading HG Well’s Time Machine, but it was too serious for me. As of now I have recently read Chetan Bhagat’s first two novels. But I enjoy reading short articles online or in the newspaper. Also if the book has smaller fonts it turns me off. While I am reading online; if it is a PDF or a word document, and if it is 30 pages long or so, it will take me about three-four days to finish reading it. I rather spend time online, surfing, chatting etc.

Varun Maliwal, 22, Student
I have never bought books. I was never into reading. And since the past two years that I have been reading, I have read about 6 six books in total. I enjoy reading Paulo Coelho and Khalid Hussein’s books. When I start reading a book, I need to know if there is enough excitement for me to complete reading it. The size of the book is not a problem.

Siddharth Shah, 23, Finance professional
My older brother is heavily into reading. Be it fiction, non-fiction or philosophy, he has it all. But just the thought of reading puts me to sleep! I cannot bring myself to read even 10 pages without dozing off. I find it really boring. Yeah, I do read the newspaper. But that is it for me. In my whole life of 23 years, I must have read 2-3 books. I started with Fountain Head once, but dozed off and it still lies by my bedside. My brother laughs at me, but then I can’t really help it. Books are boring to me.

Mansi Karve, 22, PR Professional
Seven. That is about it. My sister has tried giving me books, which I lose track off. I remember once I forgot her book by the bedside table and then it fell off. I was not bothered and she was furious. I guess that is when she stopped lending me books. And then I have a problem reading huge novels. The very size of the book puts me off. So, while my sis devoured books, I just watched. I had trouble reading comics too at one point of time, but that is cool now. Slowly I got myself to read smaller books and short stories, yet the number has not increased much.

Roopa Pathak, 26, HR Professional
I was a literature student and I still fall in this category! It is like my secret. But all those three years of graduation I never read my novels. I did do research and all, but read the summaries of the books online. I just couldn’t get myself to read all those pages. So why take literature? Well, I speak good English and have a flair for writing so I took it up. I knew it was going to be difficult so I paid attention in each lit class. As for reading, I can happily tell you that I might have read less than 15 books.

Akshay Donde, 27, Producer
I feel sleepy as soon as I see a book. Also, reading stories doesn’t interest me; watching them does. I have read only 2 or 3 books in my life. The size of a book scares me. If I had to read something it would be self-help and inspirational books.

Amjad Khan, 25, Senior Business Manager
It’s time consuming, boring and needs too much concentration. I have read a maximum of 5 to 6 books and that reading was limited to suspense and thrillers. Also, I am intimidated by the size of books. I rather play PS2.

Rajashree Balsaraf, 25, Executive, Corporate Travel
I’m just not interested. My eyes start aching after a point. I have probably read 3 books till date. And, of course, some books just scare me off with their sheer size.

Pradnesh Daki, 27, Deputy Manager, Karvy Stock Broking

It takes a lot of time. I don’t have so much patience. I have only read school text books!

And in that too, my funda was, the thinner the better. I rather surf the net, listen to music and sleep.

Custodians of books speak up
Library owner Ghanshyam Das Gandhi says:
There are many reasons why kids have stopped reading today. But the most obvious one is the stupid video games. I have been running this library for 25 years now and before that my father ran it. Even till the 90s, we used to fall short of books, as we did not own multiple copies and the demand was a lot. But now times have changed. Kids these days don’t know what reading is about. Earlier I used to have kids flocking to my library and now I barely see 10-15 kids coming to me in a month. But I would say this is better as there was a phase where people had given up reading altogether. However, those who do come are usually interested in small books or the Dan Browns and Chetan Bhagats. It is a sad state of affairs because one hardly sees any interest in writers like Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.

Teacher Mrs. Neema Singh says:
Today reading and children or rather the young adults don’t gel. I used to have children who came to me just before the holidays and ask for book recommendations. Today when I ask them what they did, the answer is usually video games, computers or some such activity. I don’t say that reading is the ultimate thing. But it is important. What parents and children don’t realise anymore is that reading helps stimulate the mind. It widens your horizons and imaginative power. I slowly see a change in the reading preferences too. People have shifted from the classics to new modern authors. It is good to read new authors, but it is also important to know your classics. After all, there is a reason why they are called the classics.

A vook is a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story. You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms. Vooks are available in two formats: As a web-based application you can read on your computer and a mobile application for reading on the go. With the web-based application you don’t have to download programs or install software. Just open your favourite browser and start reading and watching in an exciting new way. You can also download and install the mobile applications through the Apple iTunes store and sync them with your iPhone.

An e-Book (short for electronic book), also known as a digital book, is an e-text that forms the digital media equivalent of a conventional printed book, sometimes restricted with a digital rights management system. E-books are usually read on dedicated hardware devices known as e-Readers or e-book devices. Some personal computers and cell phones can also be used, especially to read documents in PDF format.

– Nikita and Priya Chaphekar

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