Monthly Archives: June 2011

Paperbacks vs. ebooks – the battle continues.

 

Reading and writing, the two things we had almost lost to Xbox and Playstations and Wii and other gaming gadgets, are seeing the light of day once again. The rising number of readers and new-age writers is amazing. It not only instills faith in the fact that the younger generation is not all that spoilt, but also brings forth new contemporary literature.

But my point today is not about honing such talents or praising them. Not today.
I recently had a lengthy conversation (read: debate) with a friend regarding the growing popularity of ebooks over paperbacks. The age old battle of ebooks vs. paperbacks seems to be haunting many a readers.

I can’t say that ebooks will completely take over paperbacks. No, that’s not all that easy. But yes, the market has seen a substantial shift after the advent of the ebooks and electronic readers.
With many electronic ebook reading gadgets flooding the market, trying to outdo one another, the choice itself becomes quite a task. So whether you should lay hands on Amazon’s Kindle, or Jinke’s Hanlin reader series, or Sony’s eReader series, or the Apple iPad or eReader, or Nook…the decision is taxing!

 

Both, the ebooks and the paperbacks, have quite a few advantages over each other. So I thought I’d jot them down and ask you all to chip in and help me as well.
Paper books continue to be the primary source of textual information. This traditional way of data collection and distribution keeps us rooted to our culture as well.

Advantage ebook:
Apart from the fact that reading from a Kindle or an e-reader is considered far more superior, people have vouched for the ease of portability and ease of handling.

Cost
This is amongst the most important consideration today. Thousands of ebooks are made available, in various readable formats, to the readers, free of cost. It does in a way promote the habit of reading.
Space and Convenience
An electronic reader virtually takes no space. Some readers can store more than 500 ebooks! Add a storage card to it and you can multiply the space four folds. Imagine carrying around your personal library everywhere you go! And the convenience of sitting around reading from an e-reader is much more than handling a book with pages folding away, getting doggy-eared or torn.

 

 Features
Electronic readers have quite a few intelligent features.

You can mark or highlight text, without the fear of it spoiling the look of the book.

You can search for a certain word or a quote without much hassle.

The text is easily readable. With features that help you zoom in and out, reading any text or  noticing the minutest detail in a picture is much easier than before.

The instant use of a thesaurus helps you understand a word or look up the meaning in a jiffy.

You can share the digital format of the text easily with friends and not worry about your book never coming back to you.

It also helps a bit in self-publishing. You can get your essay, blog, short story converted into digital text at bare minimum cost, to be shared with friends and people across the web.


Ease of reading

Most e-readers have a back-light. So you can read it whenever you wish, in whatever lighting conditions you are in, without disturbing others around you and not getting tormented with bad lighting.


Durability

Electronic readers are much long lasting than paperbacks. Almost zero degrading quality raises the charm of an e-reader over paperbacks. There are no papers crumbing due to the high acid content; there are no ink variations; there are no bindings that fall apart.

AND yes, they are much more environmentally friendly. No cutting down trees.

BUT
The basic disadvantages of ebooks generally stem from the hardware you’re reading them on. If it’s a computer, you’ve got the normal computer problems which detract from your reading pleasure:
Eye strain; Power source, because eventually the battery does run out; the hassle of carrying a laptop around instead of a small book; etc.

For electronic readers:

Yes, battery life is a concern.
Software bugs tend to “hang” the system.
More careful handling required compared to paper books. Imagine the horror of spilling coffee (or beverage of choice) on your electronic reader!
They are more easier to lose. They are small gadgets which are more prone to being stolen / flicked or lost.
Certain electronic readers recognize only a certain digital text format.
Most readers show pictures and text in bits and parts, ruining the flow of the story.
Some ebooks are a bit more expensive than regular paperbacks. Not to forget the expensive readers in the first place.

Advantage Paperbacks:
Paperbacks are easier to attain. With umpteen bookstores everywhere, paper books are available much easily than ebooks. And if it’s too much of a pain walking all the way to the store, just order online. Not many people manage to find their way across the web to a source for ebooks.

They cost lesser than an e-reader and sometimes lesser than e-books too!

They can be carried anywhere.

They do not cause eye-strain.

They do not face the fear of being hacked, corrupt, or erased at one go! (Unless stolen of course!)

They do not face “battery low/dead” problems. When there’s a power cut and the battery eventually runs out, avid book readers resort to lighting a candle to continue reading.

White or off-white paper printed with black ink displays a precision and quality that is unobtainable in any kind of ebook reader. Even the highest-grade screens have a quality of about half of what books have been offering for hundreds of years.

Paperbacks bring alive the whole reading experience. Paperbacks have more of an emotional quotient than ebooks. Paperbacks are still a major choice for most book lovers. Let’s face it, a Kindle might not be as loved as a coffee table book.

And can you imagine reading a book without a “bookmark”!!! (Yes, it is quite a point – have you seen the creativity reflecting in bookmarks today?)

BUT
Paperbacks are bulky and heavy, compared to their electronic counterparts. Carrying more than 2 or 3 does become more of a “task”.
You do need proper lighting to read them.
Highlighting a certain text or a word, or making a note, does leave a mark – forever!
And the mother of all disadvantages: too many trees are being cut to produce paper!

 

The winner?
Both! I guess.
It’s funny how the disadvantage of one, becomes the advantage of another.
All said and done, paper books will not disappear from the face of Earth. At least not soon. And ebooks certainly are more environment friendly.

There will never be a clear winner. But I, for one, belong to the old school. I love paper books. They are my prized possession. And will always be!

(Post by Sanjana Kapoor)

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

Book Review of “The Lotus Queen” by Rikin Khamar

The Lotus Queen

By Rikin Khamar

History never fascinated me. Until now.

Maybe it was the narration style of this book that brought such a valued historical account to life as I flipped through the pages.
The story is essentially about the Rajput Queen Padmavati (Padmini). The beautiful queen is married to the king of Mewar, Rawal Rattan Singh. When praise of her beauty reaches Delhi, the Sultan, Ala’uddin Khilji, is intrigued and he expresses his desire to see her. This demand comes across as major disrespect to the Rajput kingdom because queens had to follow the tradition of the veil system (parda). What follows is an attack on the kingdom of Mewar. The queen resorts to a bold step to freedom and honor, a decision, historians would quote, to lead her people to a fate yet unheard of in history.

The Lotus Queen is a beautifully written tale of bravery, honesty, love, trust and sacrifice whilst surrounded by intense distress and pain. And like I confessed earlier, I’m not a great fan of history, but this story of the Rajput bravery, valor, pride and tradition is quite an intriguing read.

The non-linear narrative is quite simple, but it does not lose out on depth. You might be a little startled in the beginning with the style, but as you proceed, it becomes more and more enjoyable. From describing the striking beauty of Queen Padmini to the picturesque and colorful traditions; from describing the sturdy and secure fort of Chittor to the rugged landscapes of Mewar; and from the passion shared by the legendry couple to the emotions portrayed and shared by all the characters in the book; Rikin has captured it all delicately and quite accurately.

The pace is quite decent. Given the fact that the story traces back to about the 1300s, no aspect of the book (or the writing) boggles you down. Also, the artwork on the book cover looks quite inspired by that era. Very traditional. Very beautiful. Yes, the story could be a little more tightly written. But then, it’s his first attempt. And quite an incredible one.

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Book Review of “The Secret” By Rhonda Byrne

The Secret

By Rhonda Byrne

One of the biggest hits – thanks to Oprah and her loyal audience, The Secret by Australian author Rhonda Byrne, tells you that everything in the Universe (which is always capitalized and usually synonymous for “God”) vibrates on a particular frequency. When you think in harmony with the frequency of something, you attract it to you. If you think about wealth, you will receive wealth. If you think instead about your debt, you will receive more debt. You attract what you think about; your thoughts determine your destiny.

Byrne quotes her 29 co-contributors to reveal the essence of The Secret: The Law of Attraction.

The book reveals the fact that “Your thoughts are the primary cause of everything,” and “Your current reality or your current life is a result of the thoughts you have been thinking.”

Remember, the Universe echoes thoughts back at you – that too three folds. So if you put in a positive/good thought, it would echo three times before coming back to you. The same holds for negative/bad thought.

Let me try and frame it in simpler words. If you think about something, that something will be attracted to your life. Whatever is in your life is there because you caused it to be there. All the good and bad things surrounding you – your friends or loneliness, your loving or abusive relationships, your success or failure, your health or illness, your life and death – all are there because you caused them to be there. This is the “Law of Attraction”.

The book says we can have anything we wish to have provided we keep faith in the supreme Universal powers and start believing prior receiving that we have got what we want. It says the only thing we got to do is ASK and then just leave it on the Universe to make way and situations for us to get our wish.

It explains this power is acting all the time and gives us just what we are deeply thinking n believing… be it good or bad.

The book focuses on You. The reader. You are the centre of the Universe. And everything happens just for You. You are a part of God – hence God himself.

It is all about self-empowerment, self-fulfillment, and getting whatever WE want.

The Secret reminds us that there is a powerful connection between our thoughts and our actions. But at a point this is a major loop hole. Our greedy and selfish heart would desire and attract more materialistic needs and desire –eventually attracting sin.

So, what happens when you wish to ace a certain exam (for example) and another person wishes the same. Who wins?

If I use The Secret to change a certain aspect of the world, it eventually will affect the lives of millions of people. What if they are using/following the path shown by The Secret? Won’t there be a conflict then?

All said and done, we should be forever thankful for everything that happens to us.

2 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Interview with Harsh Snehanshu

Not many budding authors end up harnessing the power and potential of social media platforms. And we were pleasantly surprised when Harsh Snehanshu smartly “crowdsourced” the title of his new book. Wait…we shouldn’t be doing all the talking. Here’s Harsh talking about his inspirations, ideas, wit, social media and more!

What inspired/provoked you to write “Oops! I Fell In Love…just by chance”? How did you stumble upon the title? Ain’t it just too long?
The novel’s creation was miraculous. I started writing it on my blog hoping to come up with a short comedy of errors about a guy who goes on his first date. When I began writing, I got immersed in the process so much that the short comedy of errors turned into a novel, which when published on my blog received enormous response from the readers all around. It drove me to approach publishers, who liked it and got me published.

The title is “Oops! I fell in love!”, ‘just by chance’ is the subtitle. The title suited the plot and was catchy as well. It clicked just while writing the book. I don’t think it is ‘too’ long.

Nowadays, every other person is getting published, penning a story revolving around his/her campus life. And most of it is clichéd. What would you say is the USP of your first book? What makes it “different”?
My first book is less about college life and more about the erroneous love story of the protagonists. As I said it’s a comedy of errors, packed with emotional punches. I’ve not read many other college based romantic and humorous novels, so I can’t really comment about how it is different. Regarding my work, I’ll say that it’s straight from the heart, innocent with whacky humour. People could relate themselves to the book.

How much of Kanav is Harsh? Is there a real Tanya (in your life?)
Kanav is just the manifestation of my imagination. I’ve made the character too shy and too ugly-looking, which thankfully, I’m not. Harsh is around 10% Kanav, in relation to his xenophobia. I can’t chatter much when I’m facing complete strangers, much like Kanav. Regarding Tanya, I just wish there had been one in my life.

Was there an interesting moment/anecdote when (any of) your friends realized how their personality traits reflected in the characters of Aryan, Anuj, and Sameer?
One of the chapters written in my book was actually a real life incident that occurred in my friend’s life. He read it when my book was published. He was dumbstruck that I had mentioned about the event in my book. Initially, he got frenzied but then I made him realize that his interesting story was shared across India and made people laugh. Thereafter, I even managed to extract a handsome treat out of him. Hope he’s not reading it. (Anuj!) ;)


How did it feel to hold the first print of “Oops! I Fell In Love”?

It was delightful. I was touched. It was something that I could never imagine and holding my book when I was just 19 was something that was way beyond my dreams.

If the book gets picked up for a movie tie-up, who would you want to see play the main protagonists?
Wow, interesting question. The heroine, without any doubt, would be Katrina, since while writing the book I imagined her to be in place of Tanya. Yes, that was the inspiration. As for the hero is concerned, I can’t think of any actor who could fit the role of an ugly hero. After watching 3 idiots, I think Sharman Joshi could fit in the role. He can aptly suit the role of a shy and timid guy.

We heard that your second book is a sequel to the first one. Would you like to tell us something more about the story – just briefly. When do we get to see the second book?
My second book is the sequel to the first book, which carries the story of my protagonists Kanav-Tanya forward. My first book ended on an incomplete note and my readers desperately wanted to know what happened next, which made me write the sequel, despite having no such plans initially. Interestingly, now Kanav-Tanya’s story has turned into a trilogy. After my second book, I’ll launch the third one in the series, which will complete the story. The second book will be out in the market in July.

So, how lazy are you really?
I’m very lazy when it comes to writing/thinking again for the book, after I’m done with the process of writing it. Once I finish the epilogue and finish the editing-rewriting part, I go for a long break from writing, where I explore my other interests such as music or photography.

Is that why the thought of “The Lazy Writer’s Competition” bubbled in your mind? Or was it just another smart marketing gimmick? (If that’s the case- it worked!)
I was actually out of ideas. I couldn’t devise a title for my second book. That was when i got this idea of asking my readers to construct a title for me. It worked. I’ve got two titles, which I’ve considered for my second and third books. Also, being a social media enthusiast after handling my venture thewittyshit.com’s social media handle since the last one year, I was adept in using social media for this cause. Of course, another intention was to create a buzz about my second book, which has proven to be successful in the last one 20 days.

You seem to have made great use of social media platforms across the web. What is your take on social media optimization today?
Social media has emerged as the cheapest and one of the most effective modes of advertising and brand-building in the current date. Be it facebook, twitter, linkedin or blogs, the use of social media enables it to get traffic as well as advertising across the network users. I feel that SMO is as important as SEO, since nowadays social media platforms have more engaged traffic than the search engines and it would give any venture a greater visibility at very low cost.

Quick 5
Favorite authors: J.D Salinger, Roald Dahl, Guy De Maupassant
Favorite books: The Catcher in the Rye, The Autobiography of Yogi, Five Point Someone
Favorite genre: Humour, Biographies
A memorable compliment: “I’m in love with Tanya. Tell me when you break up with her.” – a reader from Abu Dhabi mailed to me.
An unforgettable criticism: When my best-friend said, “Your potential is much much more than these light fiction books that you’re writing. I’m waiting for a book from you that can become my lifelong friend.”

Let’s talk about your creative entrepreneurial venture – thewittyshit.com. It’s a year old now. Tell us about its ideation. The name sure is unforgettable. How did you come up with such a quirky name?
I co-founded this venture with a friend because we saw an opportunity to monetize traces of creativity in common people. We saw that owing to the advent of facebook and twitter as social networking giants, many people started writing one-liners, which were sometimes witty and original. So we created this platform to give the common man recognition, voice and get their creativity reach a wider audience alongwith fetching them monetary incentives through contests where they could fabricate punchlines for companies and start-ups.
Regarding the name, it just happened, much like our tagline ‘Because wit happens…’

What’s new with thewittyshit? Something our readers should look out for?
We’ve a very active fanpage, with over 16 thousand members till date. Join the page and register on the website thewittyshit.com and get your creativity recorded in a wit-book. I’ve graduated right now from IIT, so now I’m pursuing the venture full time. We’re currently working on the contest section which will have monetary incentives for the user. We hope to launch it within a month, while wit-store – a store that will retail all our wit-based merchandise would be launched within the next five months.

What do you like doing most when not doodling some witty shit or writing an interesting story?
I like photography. I’ve my own photoblog named ‘Rods and Cones’. I’m a connoisseur of music. I collect musical instruments and like playing them.

So, on a departing note: if you had a book club, what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there? (Please don’t just say- “books!”)
I’ll call it “Serendipity”. It’s my favorite word and it also echoes the chance encounter with a random book that could change your life forever.

3 Comments

Filed under Blogs/Interviews

On Chick-lits

I do not like chick-lits. Yes, you read that right (*looking at EvilDevil). I feel it is not really a genre, but simply the book description.
And I do not like chick-lits. At all.

Spattered with pink (eeuu!) and margaritas and martinis and cosmopolitans and lotions and stockings – rather than soaking in literary awards, or IQ for that matter, I’m surprised such books sell like hot cakes.

The image that pops in my head (when a book is termed as chick-lit) is that of mediocre quality writing, published with minimum editing, available in paperback at half the price, and is as easily forgotten as read.

What ever happened to the enriching content or highlighting an issue of concern?
Don’t get me wrong. Chick-lits are fun, if well crafted. But look at the quality of chick-lits being produced nowadays.
All they have is random “bold”-ness and a generous serving of sex, affairs, lusty and flirtatious men and women, gossip, gal pals, shopping, high heels, parties, diets, broken dreams, lucky breaks, and the clichéd jazz (happy sorta endings) that help in no way apart from wasting time.

Chick-lits were meant to show a woman’s point of view. Remember Rona Jaffe’s fast –paced, sassy tale of New York girls’ office life, “The Best Of Everything” that came out in 1958? No, I haven’t read it but during my research I did come across a lot of reviews of this book. And most of them did mention how “the book changed the lives of many readers” (yes, in a positive way)! Now that’s what you call a good chick-lit that is a real bestseller. The one that has an impact. And weren’t chick-lits aimed at (young) women to change their perspective for the good? What really happened to that funda?

And if you consider it to be a genre, I’m sorry to say it has really degraded and instead of dealing with the real problem/issues faced by women, it highlights the kind of lifestyle most women yearn for today. Obnoxious most of the time. And it’s all in the name of enjoyment and fun. Fine, there is nothing wrong in indulging in fun. But honey, can’t you pull up your socks and just think of a better name, if not the content!??!
All I ask you “budding writers” is to make some sense! Those “no-brainer” reads make it to the bestsellers list.
How, I have no idea!
Someone told me recently that chick-lits sell. It’s easier to find publishers for it. Not many publishers take their chances with serious content lest they lose face.
Ok, what? How???


It baffles me how each time someone blames the publisher(s) and walks away with a chick-lit. Now just because no one can really go (cross-) question the publisher, the argument ends there (forcibly).
I’ve met a couple of publishers during book fests and boy! Are they serious about their work or what! Name “chick-lits” that have won any awards. You won’t find many. Right. Because they have no invigorating content!!!

To add more misery are your ‘telly series’ (like Sex and the City) that makes young women think they too can write a shoddy articles about their lifestyle in the metro as a single girl and garner accolades. Accolades of shame I say.

And what’s with the pink cover! Really!!! Or cup cakes or cherries or hearts or suggestive silhouettes of women. All marketing gimmicks eh? Here’s a secret ladies – when you do that, no matter how good the content is, you definitely are losing out on certain readers. Because we are going to assume (and sorry about that –once bitten twice shy) that the inside would be as girly, uninteresting, formulaic and mundane as the cover.
Wise men have suggested that books furnish a house. But looking at the books on the shelves of major bookstores I don’t think I wish to furnish my room with the sickly pinks or sugar spewing, atrocious thin tomes.

And oh yes, the plot seems to be written for the dim-wits. An ordinary story, with no great characterization or depth or meaning what-so-ever, to mock the readers and their IQ. And there is no real humor. It is all forced/fake and non-existent. Don’t even get me started on the predictable endings. FYI “Happily ever after” is a myth.
Again, and I’m not defending myself here, there have been works by seasoned authors that count as really good chick-lits. But my grudge is against the new-age silly chicks who really think they can compile and compose a novella, when in reality they can hardly frame a sentence, or make sense.

I’ve read some of Sophie KinsellaMarian KeyesHelen Fielding and Janet Evanovich who’ve whipped up delicious chick-lits to savor. Yes, not all their work is good. But they are naturally humorous and entertaining, with sometimes a hidden agenda being addressed.
I recently heard people all over celebrated May 2011 as the inauguralInternational Chick-lit Month. Wow! I wish people attended that to learn more about crafting good stories rather than jotting clichéd routines and self-proclaim them as best-sellers!

*All views expressed in the blogs are of the writer (Sanjana Kapoor) alone and do not reflect the views of Sonia in any manner.


Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs/Interviews