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Going Electronic- My First (And Disastrous) Attempt at E-Reading

Krithika Karthikeyan, IIK Young Reporter
Sunday, May 31, 2020

Going Electronic- My First (And Disastrous) Attempt at E-Reading

The concept of lockdown falls hard on some people, but specifically on readers. The idea of being stuck in house with the same set of books to read is worse than claustrophobia. So, fed up of reading (and eventually, memorizing) the first two books of the Percy Jackson series (one of the best set of novels, a must-read), I decided to accept the inevitable, and do something I’d dreaded since the day I fell in love with reading (which is speaking long-time) - e-reading.

One of the signs the universe gave me to prove the point that I was not cut for companies like Amazon and Google when I grow up was the fact that I would eventually be charged with treason for punching the E-Book sales manager on his face. I guess you could call it an aversion. I don’t know why, but the idea of reading from a glowing screen instead of a stapled-page thrill-bundle seems offensive to me. Books were made to take a break from all the gossip and texts and let yourself be transported to a parallel world. The idea of fusing them together is not exactly your Shikhar Dhawan- Rohit Sharma combination.

I ran a little book rental (completely free, I’m not Greg Heffley) in the 5th grade to anybody who read from e-book platforms. I felt great. That’s about 10 people free from e-books, and……well, the rest of them to go.

That’s why I couldn’t believe myself when the tiny idea formed in my head. “Are you crazy? You’ve been fighting for non-e-books for so long, and now you want to give in?” the sane part of my brain asked the insane one. “No!” the insane part defended itself. “It’s just that, the ending of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters was pretty abrupt, and I have to find out what happens next”.

“What would happen if crime lawyers organize crimes themselves? the sane part asked.

“I’m not a crime lawyer, am I?” the insane part asked angrily. “I’m just…..me. Besides, do you know what happens in the end of Sea of Monsters? Annabeth-”

“I know what happens” the sane part cut him off. “What do you want to do?” it asked me.

“Who, me?” I asked myself. “Yes, you! We’re in your head, dummy!”

“I don’t know!” I answered desperately. Both the sides seemed reasonable. Boy, was I in a fix.

As I do not want to bore you with the details of the Parliament Debate going on in my head, let me just skip to the part where I made that choice (I wouldn’t know that time) I would deeply regret. I picked up my IPad and downloaded the PDF of Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse.

My first thought was, “Are the books even supposed to be this bright?” And then it occurred to me, I wasn’t even reading from a book. The first few pages was just me reading and missing the page flipping thrill, until-

“Kithu! What are you doing glued to the IPad for so long? Do you want to get bigger spectacles?” (My mom calls me Kithu. Do I even have to point that out?).

“Coming!” I reluctantly shut the IPad and left.

After sometime of chopping and cutting and impressing people with my meals (Quarantine does stuff to people, try blaming me), I returned to the book. Just pages of peaceful reading was yet again interrupted by my brother, who was getting restless by the minute. “Dare you to a match of Fortnite!” he challenged me. “Go away, I’m reading!” I pushed him away.

“Aww, is somebody scared to play?” my brother asked with a face. “Chicken, chicken, chicken!” he taunted me for about 5 minutes until I yelled, “Okay fine, you win!” and paused reading. Three kibosh for Percy.

Fast forward. I had nearly reached the end. Although the page flipping and thrill was horribly lacking in the IPad, my curiosity for the ending made me bear that. Percy picks up the sword, Annabeth and Grover and beside him, he’s staring the demon in its eyes-

‘Low Battery. Switching off’.

I’m just thankful I didn’t break the IPad.

This was just the kind of experience that proves my point again. The world is modernizing. I agree to that. But, do virtual cheeseburgers sound good? Some things don’t have to change. They can stay the same, and can still be adored by millions. The concept of reading from an E-Book and a hard copy may seem alike to some, but to some of us, it’s like comparing a two-foot structure to a ten-feet building. When you read a book, visualizing the events in your head is an amazing way to develop your creativity. When you read from an e-book or watch a book-adapted movie, you’re too busy staring at a bright screen for your brain to process anything. The thrill of holding the book in your hands and not knowing what happens next is a feeling some are quite unlucky to miss. You can be hooked on a book for days, and nobody can question you, because it’s one of the most productive things you can do. I’m afraid the same can’t be said for e-books. The first thing I have in mind after the pandemic is over is to relive the Percy Jackson series all over again, but this time with the hard copy. Just me, music, and a good book, which is worth more than any gold, silver or platinum. And sometimes, all you need is a good book.

Apart from my message to the readers, this is also a fable containing the disastrous experience of a reader to go “electronic”. And what’s the moral of the story? I’m going to leave that to you.

Thank you, and stay safe.

Krithika Karthikeyan
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