Prints & Pages


Brita Sarkar

Some books by Somerset Maugham

  •  The Razor’s Edge
  • Of Human Bondage
  • Up at the Villa
  • A Writer’s Notebook

Book lovers never go to bed ALONE.

Ursula K. Le Guin
Author of novels

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, an American author, has written 22 novels, 12 children’s books and 11 volumes of short stories, 6 volumes of poetry and 4 collections of essays. Her genres are science fiction and fantasy.

21 October 1929

Berkeley, California, United States

Short stories:
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Nine Lives and others

Nebula , Hugo, National Book etc

Tales from Earthsea, Earthsea, Wizard of Earthsea,

In Somerset Maugham’s The Book Bag, the narrator carries a giant laundry bag stuffed with books to all the colonial outposts that he has to visit because reading is his favourite pastime and as he wants different books for different moods,  three or four books would not serve his purpose.

Whoopi Goldberg used to carry 30 books during her long travels. Now she has replaced these with a Kindle. The device is light and can store more books than most of us can read in a lifetime. It’s kind of nice to have your library with you when you are away from home.

The e-book is there to stay definitely though the controversy rages about whether it can truly replace the pleasure of leafing through a physical book.

Even today the sight of a person engrossed in a book catches the attention of fellow bookworms. Conversations begin with words like ” What an attractive cover!” or ” You must read this author’s debut novel. Sensational.” Many a romance has begun in the quiet precincts of a library. Somehow a Kindle does not generate the same curiosity or interest in a bystander. It is an intensely personal device and lacks the personality of a print book. It just is not possible to scribble notes on the margin or draw in the smell of a new book or a musty tome. Nobody can be passionate over a Kindle. At least that is the opinion of die-hard print book readers.

However, the Kindle does have its virtues as a reading device. It offers a very long selection of free e-books that include the very best of literature. Each book has an informative synopsis, a free sample download facility, reviews and links to other e-books that cater to the reader’s tastes. For most of us, its biggest advantage is that in an age of space crunch, it gives us the luxury to buy books without thinking twice about where to store them. Also most of the e- books  are cheaper than their print counterparts. There is no fear of wear and tear, no need to ponder over its weight or dimensions or spend precious moments looking for the page that you had read last. E-books can be bought at any time of the day or night. In fact e-book readers are called convenience devices for these reasons. Most authors are quite comfortable about this kind of digital access. It’s a part of our technology savvy age. However, exceptions are still there. The author, Ursula K Le Guin, so heartily dislikes e-books that she has not permitted her books to be digitalised.

Being a teacher, I have had the good fortune to observe the reading habits of school students aged 11 to 18. A Class 6 child told me that his father had said  ” I have read print books my entire life and so has your mother.If they were good enough for us, they are good enough for you.” Another student who was in Class 9 said that he could read on his mother’s Kindle but there was a proverbial fly in the ointment.  “I had to explain for hours who Rick Riordan was and what he wrote about, before my mother allowed me to purchase a book. I had got a couple of his books from the school library and she had never asked me any questions, because she trusts the school. On Kindle she just wants me to read classics because they are free.” The print book is probably a more trusted medium of reading, familiar and reassuring.

Much is being made of the fact that the sale of e-books has declined by almost 20% in 2016.

The reason is a mystery. E-books are an $8 billion industry, but only 6% of internet users exclusively read e-books. 92% students still prefer print text books over e-books. Sales of e-books had reached their zenith in 2012 and now are sliding. Despite this, the e-book industry definitely has a healthy future. It is predicted that by 2018, e-books may consist of 1/4 of the total of global sales.

In the mind of the reading public, the e-book and the print book are engaged in a pitched battle. There are people who refuse to buy Kindle, or having bought one are not in any hurry to use it. Bedtime stories, where the love of books actually originates, are read aloud from print books. The Kindle is perceived as the wicked step sister, the usurper who is slyly taking over the territory that belonged to traditional books. The media is also adding fuel to the fire.

Lifestyles are changing and man is adapting, so is technology. No side has to win. No side has to lose. What makes an e-book or a print book valuable is its contents. The writer remains the magician who touches the hearts and the intellect of his or her readers. Whatever be the tool – the print book or the e-book, we have place for both.

“Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness we return to books: to find words for what we already know.”

― Alberto Manguel,
A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader’s Reflections on a Year of Books

“I go back to the reading room, where I sink down in the sofa and into the world of The Arabian Nights. Slowly, like a movie fadeout, the real world evaporates. I’m alone, inside the world of the story. My favourite feeling in the world.”

― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore


Brita Sarkar is a Kolkata based veteran high school teacher. She has written a text book on English grammar. She is an avid traveller and considers books as the best companion.

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