I do not remember anytime from early childhood when I was not a member of any Library or a regular member at local book-shop that rented books. Every time we changed house or went to a new city, I used to try to find a place where I could browse for books and then take them out for reading. Sometimes, I could find large libraries and sometimes I could find only small book-shops that dealt with old books and will give these books on rent. A perfect weekend always included going to a library and spending time there browsing through books, sometimes finding new authors and genres, sometimes picking up on old ones and sometimes just sitting there going through many newspapers and magazines.
Before the Google era, I used to go to library for my questions and always felt that I would find answers there. When I was bored or down or happy, library was the place to go and day would pass just like that. I remember browsing through huge encyclopedias and pictures books that would have been too expensive to buy and learning lot of stuff. Then there were some not very popular sections but hiding some really great books. Most of these libraries had restriction on number of books one could borrow and that was the most tricky part. At the end of library visit, I would always have too many books and then I had to choose the best and then hope that when I visit next time, I will still be able to find the remaining ones.
I would like to mention about two of these libraries that have been most important. One was central library in Chandigarh, where I was member for many years. That place has been most influential in creating the habit of reading English books in me. Another was the office library of C-DOT where I worked for many years. Normally, corporate libraries are not that great but the librarian here was really good and he had nurtured this place for many years making it one of the best source of technical information.
Wow, this is my 50th post.
I guess many of die-hard book lovers may not like the last mode “Download” which is referring to reading books online or many of the Kindle type book reading devices, but it is a reality of this world. After all, this blog is also possible only because of power of Internet. I wanted to write about the way people acquire books and use them and also talk about what is my preferred mode. I would also like to hear from other readers about their preferred mode and why.
As a kid, we normally borrow books from friends or neighbors or get them as gifts on various occasions. There is never enough pocket-money to buy all the books we want to read. So all the kids share their books with each other. Other than borrowing, we also try to find out a local book renting library and we all must have read hundreds of books from such libraries. Typically, school holidays was the time when such libraries were very useful.
As we grow up and start earning, we start buying books on our own more often. Now we own the books, read them and keep them with us. There is a different kind of pleasure in reading a fresh new book which has never been opened before. We can never get that pleasure in a library book. But what do we do after we finished reading a book. Do we keep it for reading it again later? Do we keep it and never read it? Do we give it as gift or sell it back? I guess everybody will have different preferences. I have felt that keeping all the books that I purchase is not a good idea. Very soon books start taking over all the space in your house. And if you need to shift your house then packing and unpacking of books can be back-breaking. If I am sure that I am not going to read that book again, I prefer to sell it back to some second-hand book store or gift it to somebody. But there are books that I don’t want to give back because I keep them for future reading again and again.
Renting a book does not work for me because then you need to read it in fixed time and it becomes work instead of pleasure. On the other hand sometimes you may end up buying books but not read them. That is almost a crime and in some cases I am also guilty of it.
The new concept of book reading is download and read it on monitor. It is easy, cheaper, light-weight but it is not a book. Somebody may say what is the difference, it is the same content as in the real book. I agree, the content is same but it is still not a book. Hard to explain but very strong feeling.