Sunday July 22, 2018

Exclusive: Is Online Reading Culture Eliminating the habit of going to Libraries?

“Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director

Old Books in Libraries. Pixabay

New Delhi, Apr 20, 2017: Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analogue to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as the bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments.

Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

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Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object.

“Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journal conference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.

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Gone are the days when avid readers used to sleep holding a book to their chest. Everyone wants a plug point near their bed to charge their tabs instead of a shelf to keep the books properly.

Age old is the saying that “Books are the best companion of man” but with the constantly advancing technology it seems like kindles and other gadgets are wiping away the books from the scene. No wonder, house to vast knowledge: libraries can be seen as empty spaces as the no. of book readers are reducing exponentially.

According to a survey conducted by Global Trade Talk, no. of e- readers across the world has increased to 12.8 million in 2010 and the no. has been rising ever since which evidently means a reduction in people reading the hard copy.70.8 million tablets and 16.6 million e-readers were shipped in 2012. At the end of 2015, eMarketer estimated that there are 83.4 million e-reader users in the US, with the number predicted to grow by 3.5% in 2016.

This is certainly having an adverse impact on libraries and the traditional libraries are just becoming places for “free wi-fi” where people sit and stare at their gadgets.

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However, a segment of people is still sticking to the books and has this to say regarding the latest online reading trend: Deepak Sharma, a student of Masscomedia in New Delhi said, ”Online studies are undoubtedly shattering libraries, it not only consumes eyes but also UV rays have negative impact on brain. While library gives one opportunity to act as a discoverer, connects with information and people manually and better mental exercise. Study hours, sitting postures, the incredible process of finding the desired material everything is getting a hit due to online reading and lost library culture.”

Mrs. Archana Sihag, a schoolteacher by profession says,” students are readily attracted to tabs and do not want to carry “heavy” books but it doesn’t matter how much you try, you can’t replace a book with a kindle. The feeling you get while reading a book cannot be matched with a kindle or any other means of online reading.”

Needless to say, online reading is certainly gaining popularity but people are still keeping the books around and there is a hope that this tradition will not die.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @Nikitatayal6

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“A Suitable Girl”: Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published

Seth suffered from writer's block after his break-up

"A Suitable Girl": Most Awaited Novel By Vikram Seth, Finally Published, flickr

Hardly has any novel been awaited with as much curiosity and anticipation in recent times as Vikram Seth’s sequel to the monumental “A Suitable Boy” (1993). Five years on, since he was first expected to deliver the manuscript, the novel is still to see the light of the day. But what seems like a saga of missed deadlines can very well — far from our eyes — be a masterpiece in the making.

“The more I talk of her, the more shy she becomes,” Seth had told this correspondent in 2015 about “A Suitable Girl”, the novel-in-waiting.

Seth, as his literary agent David Godwin puts it, has been known to take his time with his books. The prolonged delay, however, was not acceptable to Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and he was asked to return an advance payment of $1.7 million when the deal was called off. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, an imprint of the British publisher Orion, then acquired the novel — and it was scheduled to release in 2016.

But a flying bird — a friend and confidant of the writer — says that he is now giving the “final touch” to the novel and that one can expect “the big announcement” soon.

Seth released a collection of poems titled “Summer Requiem” in the meanwhile. In the collection, he traces the immutable shiftings of the seasons, the relentless rhythms of a great world that both “gifts and harms”. Composed as they were while he was (which he still is) writing the sequel, several poems in the offering open doors to his mind, or perhaps they may be preludes to the larger narrative that he is weaving.

“I have so carefully mapped/the corners of my mind/that I am forever waking/in a lost country,” he writes in the opening poem. Interestingly, Seth’s companion to “A Suitable Boy” will be a jump sequel — the characters have travelled from the 1950s and it will be very much a novel set in somewhat the present times.

novels By Vikram Seth
novels By Vikram Seth, flickr

In its title poem, he mourns that the “liberated generation lives a restrained youth,” and then adds: “I must forsake attachment”. On another occasion in the book, readers find him lamenting over “the peaceful love” that the narrator has “never found”. In another short poem “Late Light” he writes: “Outside the great world’s gifts and harms/ There must be somewhere I can go/To rest within a lover’s arm/At ease with the impending snow”.

Reportedly, Seth suffered from writer’s block after his break-up with French violinist Phillippe Honor but that was a long time ago and was reflected in “An Equal Music”. He has moved on or has he not?

Nonetheless, it has been about five years since “A Suitable Girl” was first expected to hit the stands but the wait is surely worth it. As writer-politician Shashi Tharoor says about his good friend’s technique — that “Vikram Seth draws an entire roadmap of his novel, planning every minute element in great detail” — the sequel, thanks to all the anticipation and the pressure on the writer, may actually be a masterpiece in the making, as sublime as its counterpart and yet set in the time of its readers.

Vikram Seth is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi Award, and among several other prestigious honours, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. He has been widely translated and is among leading novelists on the global stage. He has published three novels — “The Golden Gate” (1986), “A Suitable Boy” (1993) and “An Equal Music” (1999) — along with several collections of poetry such as “Mappings” and “All You Who Sleep Tonight”.

Also read: Here is all the reason for Bookworms to look ahead for the upcoming year: A List of the Best Stories and Novels in 2017!

Seth — an openly gay man — is also one of the prominent faces of the campaign against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality. (IANS)