Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Welcome to the World of eBooks

Technology has changed the definition of knowledge sharing. From bulky hardbacks to ebooks, the journey has been short, but phenomenal and still has a long way to go.

Kindle by Amazon 


Do you remember when you last turned the pages of Encyclopedia Britannica, kept inside the dusty shelves of the library? Well, if you don’t, then curse the advent of Internet technology which has made those books a matter of past. Let me come to the point. Last month, the publisher of Britannica has finally decided to end the printed version of the encyclopedia after 240 years of publication! Instead, Britannica will provide online version to its readers. Britannica wont die, but will get a makeover from bulky hardcover to sleek screen of your tablet or post PC (courtesy: Tim Cook) devices.

In the age of internet, hardbacks and paperbacks are losing their share in the publishing sector. The rise of broadband technology has given a complete makeover to the definition of sharing knowledge. Today, its not limited to dozens of books in your shelves, but, literally, knowledge doesn’t have boundaries.

It all started with wikipedia in 2001 where knowledge comes free to everybody. But the major revolution came with the invention of ebook. From the birth of kindle to the rise of tablets, the journey has been short, but phenomenal and still has a long way ahead. 

Ebook is a boon for book lovers (like me). I can carry thousands of titles in a 1cm thick tablet or an ebook reader. You name it and the title gets delivered to your device in seconds. My dad would have to spend a day to search a book throughout the books stores of the town. But today it’s just a click away! You name it and its there.

Ebook market in India is still an infant. Undoubtedly, it has immense potential, but hasn’t been utilized to its fullest. Truly speaking, Indians aren’t ready to switch over digital books than traditional books. My school principal would curse the ebook technology (he believes reading ebook loses charm of reading). And this mentality keeps domestic publishers away from ebooks. Consequently, the prices of ebook are much higher. In fact you would have to spend more to buy an ebooks than a hard copy. For instance, you could get (with little bargain) a paperback edition of Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Revolution 2020’ in Rs 100. But if you wish to buy a kindle version, you would have to spend $8.99 (Rs. 450)! And that’s too with limited titles available in the stock. You would hardly find books in vernacular languages.

According to an estimate by Gigaom Pro, U.S. e-book marketplace is $2 billion and is believed to exceed $5 billion by 2016. Though ebook market is flourishing in western countries, Indian ebook market needs a boost. Fortunately, several domestic players are showing interest in ebook industry and have come up with few options for ebook lovers. But still, ebook industry in India has a long way to go.

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