BEFORE COMPUTER-AFTER DIGITAL (BC-AD) An eBook reader becomes a portable library as you can download and save thousands of books

“Thanks to technology, you may run out of time, but you’ll never run out of books,” claims a geek.

BC: Hi, heard that you’ve bought a book on Steve Jobs — can I borrow it?

AD: I don’t know. You’ll need a reader.

BC: Don’t be silly, I can read it myself.

AD: No, it’s an eBook, so you’ll need an eBook reader.

BC: So we will now have a PC at home, a laptop for official use, a tablet for portable convenience and to play Angry Birds, a smartphone to stay in touch and an eBook reader to read.

AD: Well, you can also read on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

BC: How can you read a whole book on a mobile? I find it difficult even to read messages.

AD: There are apps like the Nokia eBook reader app, available on Nokia Lumia devices, to make your life easy.

BC: But reading at nights.

AD: The Nokia Lumia offers you a night mode that makes it convenient to read after dark. Barnes & Noble has also launched Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, an eBook reader with an option for night reading.

BC: I still don’t get it. How can you prefer an eBook over a good, old-fashioned book?

AD: There are quite a few advantages. You can download and save thousands of books, so your eBook reader is like your own portable mini-library. Some eBook readers have a text-to-speech software option, so you can have the book read out to you. Some of them also play music.

BC: What do you say about a generation that picks up a book to listen to music? But if eBooks are available online, won’t people just download them for free instead of paying for them?

AD: Though the hardware manufacturers and publishers are trying to implement DRM — Digital Rights Management — the problem is that in the digital era, the more you try to restrict or protect usage of something, the more it gets pirated.

BC: That’s probably why DRM should stand for Don’t Restrict Mindlessly.

AD: That’ll be the day.

BC: Since the eBook reader and a tablet look so similar, why can’t there be a device that can perform both roles?

AD: That’s what Amazon has attempted with its Kindle Fire.

BC: Now I know why I worry about kids messing around with tablets… They’re playing with fire.

AD: Look, kids seem to prefer gizmos to books — they are completely into online games on mobile phones or on computers… So, if this is the only way to get them to read, why not?

BC: So it’s all about using technology to beat technology.

AD: Technology is also winning the race against the conventional print medium. According to a recent study, eBook production in the U.K. has left conventional hardback books behind in 2011.

BC: I think they should stop worrying so much about their Queen and instead pray that God save the hardback.

AD: Incidentally, one of U.K.’s most famous bookstores — The Travel Bookshop — made popular by the movie Notting Hill, has shut shop because of poor business.

BC: That’s sad.

AD: For book lovers?

BC: No, for the producers who are contemplating a sequel. They obviously can’t have Hugh Grant selling eBook readers in a store.

AD: And what if they did?

BC: Julia Roberts would hardly frequent the place to browse through eBook readers. She’d rather order one online, wouldn’t she?

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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Law & OrderSeptember 24, 2010