If you know me even a bit, you know that among other things I love doubtlessly, reading is one. Owing to a mother who’s a librarian in the
Lol Lok Sabha, I’ve been fed books since I was a kid, and couldn’t be more indebted to her for inculcating such an ameliorating habit in me.
Somewhere between reading a book before calling it day and sometimes going to school sleep deprived by the cause of not calling it a day the night before, I developed a habit of reading on the computer. I would lower the brightness of the fatass CRT monitor while hearing my dad go all ballistic on my mom “Andha ho jayega aise saara din computer pe padhega to”. But that wouldn’t stop me from reading, not even briefly while my dad continued to freak out. How could I not read further when I didn’t know whether Eragon would find all the Eldunaris or not? It wasn’t easy to stop, and fellow librocubicularists would understand that.
Till 9th standard, reading was a habit which occupied most of my time, and there was never enough of it. I got involved into a lot of extra curricular after 9th and my blog is a witness of that. As a consequence, reading took a backseat while I was busy eating free pizzas and winning quizzes. I don’t regret though, I was reading something all that while too, even if it was Wikipedia or Blitz IT quiz. Choosing law as a profession was affected by this, for I knew if chose to become a lawyer, reading would come as part and parcel of the job, which I desperately wanted.
I’ve read on a PSP, I’ve read on my mobile, I’ve read on my laptop, hell I’ve even read on a Nintendo DS and trust me when I say it, it was a royal pain in the ass. There were always ebook readers on the market, but since I had free access to every book under the sun and a device to read on, an ebook reader never attracted me enough.
The first semester of college went past like a project deadline. I spent all my time figuring out people, the place, avoiding the library for the lack of non-academic books saddened me, and reading only a bit here and there. Travelling, TV shows, movies, friends, attendance, thinking paying attention in a lecture would do me some good, and the lack of privacy in a boys hostel morphed me into someone who did not have the ability to sit and read for hours. Call it ADHD, or call it plain stupid, it was a shift in my personality and identity which I couldn’t bear to live with. Ergo, the second semester started with me taking a bag full of books with me to college. Semester ended, I was done with all, even managed to complete a few books I had borrowed. Took all books back home when the semester ended, hauling them somehow, packing them as carefully as possible. The third semester started and I repeated the exercise, only this time with new books, books I had borrowed off a friend (which I will eventually return to you, Shaashwat, I will. Even if I don’t, you’ll always know that your books are in a nice happy, comfortable place somewhere, away from oil, water and everything else which books don’t like). I finished all, borrowed a couple more from a senior but before I could finish them, the semester ended and he needed them back. Packed ‘em books, stuffed ‘em clothes, and off to Delhi again.
Thank God the airline people let you off the hook for extra luggage if you tell them it’s only books, or I would have spent so much in only transporting them.
It wasn’t long before this tradition of carrying books started becoming an ordeal, and I figured something had to be done. Borrowing books in college could be one way out, but that limits one’s freedom to choose. Reading on the laptop was no longer an option as I would get distracted every ten minutes and find myself somewhere on the God forsaken internet reading something entirely different. Thanks to smartphones, reading on the phone seemed no different than on the laptop. Enter Kindle.
I had been subconsciously pondering (read drooling) buying it for quite sometime, and almost placed an order during Black Friday sales when Amazon was selling one for $49. It’s not easy to make a decision to shift from reading on paper to making a conscious investment to read on screen, not when you love holding books, opening them, taking care of them, taking in their aroma, and just being surrounded by them. I eventually bought one during GOSF for Rs 5,000 off Amazon (a discount of Rs 1,000) and beside deciding to take CLAT again, that was probably one of the best decisions of my life.
I am absolutely in love with the device. The issue I faced with other devices was that even if my self-control was a major factor in play, they distracted me. The kindle doesn’t do any of that, partly because it is an angel in disguise, but mostly because it can’t.
Its inability to do anything beside the bare minimum is what I love about it the most.
It’s basic, it’s old school, retro even. It’s a simple device which has Wi-Fi so that you can buy books online, absolute no-nonsense business that is. An Experimental Internet Browser for the occasional need to search something. An inbuilt dictionary which is accessible at the tap on the word you need to know the meaning of. And that’s all about the device. This simplicity is what I needed and hence went for the most basic model, even if that meant the limitation of being able to read only in ambient light, for there is no backlight on the device. Thankfully, a noticeable amount of ambient light is enough for one to make out the words on screen.
The heart of the device is something called E-Ink. If you don’t wish to plunge into a paragraph of technology and get overwhelmed by it, feel free to skip to the next one.
E-Ink was developed at MIT Media Lab by Joseph Jacobson and his student Barrett Comiskey. Another name by which it is referred is “bistable”. Bistable means that unlike a conventional screen, the image doesn’t disappear the moment the power source is removed. In practice, battery is only consumed when you flip (or change) a page as the image is replaced. To put it into perspective, no power is consumed while you are reading the contents of just one page, and power is consumed only when you flip the page. This is one of the major reasons why Amazon can claim it to have a backup of a week of reading. E-Ink makes use of tiny capsules called microcapsules, which contain a clear fluid, tiny black and white particles. When an electric field is applied to a microcapsule, the negatively charged black particles shoot off to one direction, while the positively charged white go in the other direction. Once settled, they do not move and this results in creation of a stable image, even after the electronic field it removed. Because the microcapsules don’t consume much energy when they are in a suspended state, the page can save energy until the reader moves to a new page. And that’s about it. Kudos on reading through the paragraph.
E-ink is magic enclosed in a plastic case. It’s easy on the eyes, even seems like paper to look at, consumes such a scant amount of battery that it can be powered by a hamster on meth.
I no longer need to balance 800+ page books while I am lying down and reading them. They have fell on my face so many times, I’ve lost count. I don’t need to worry about the spine of the book and the obsession to condition it every now and then. The last thing I want is a book in 400 different pieces. I am now done with having to keep my book aside while eating something that can spill and leave an obnoxious regret filled stain on a book. I am now done with carrying a bag full of books every semester.
All thanks to him.