Is printing dead? : Real paper or virtual space 

      When the world’s first book was published, no one in their right minds might have dreamt of an age where paper was not needed anymore, to do so. When internet and its never ending possibilities made their advent, email became more prominent and even greeting cards began to be sent over internet, and shinier, prettier and animated and cheap it went. Although publishing on paper has not lost its glamour yet, online publishing has become a trend since it is much less time consuming, less expensive and easily distributed to the world only in a matter of seconds, via the internet- the all-powerful tool.

What exactly is e-publishing or online publishing? Simply put, electronic publishing (also referred to as e-publishing or digital publishing) is the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. Getting an e-book published has the same procedures as traditional publishing but stands apart in the facts that there is no actual printing that involves ink and paper, and that the distribution is not of a physical product.The idea, of course, is relevant. One question remains: is reading off an electronic device the same as holding a book in one’s hands and reading it?

 Where has e-publishing taken us, the readers? Looking at the issue through the eyes of an environmentalist, one can say that e-publishing reduces wastage of paper and deforestation for paper manufacture to a great extent.

With the introduction of new-age dedicated book-reading electronic devices such as the Kindle, reading has taken to a new level. Digitally published books, audio versions, .pdf documents, anything can be read using this one little device. It is a digital library in itself where thousands of digital books can be stored and stowed away for reading whenever the mind pleases. But is it as good as the feeling one gets when buying an actual work of literature or science or art for oneself, to feel proud to own a piece of the author’s work, to read it whenever they want without worrying for the batteries running out or the brightness being too low or high?

It is the age where the new generation of children and youth believes that a world beyond the claws of social networking and internet does not exist. Along with that, the good habit of reading has slowly started translating into what is left as compulsory reading at schools and colleges.

The chances for the young minds to roam free in the roles of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, are long gone. The thrills of imagining oneself as the old man struggling to catch a big fish at the sea, in The Old Man and the Sea,  have drowned in the noise of text messages and Face book ‘pops’. The literary classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Sherlock Holmes, The Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables etc. were once the guiding life lessons to many a generations.

 Let us look at why e-books and online publishing have become popular in the modern era. E-books are readily available, easily accessible to a very wide population and has a reach all over the world all at the same time, day or night; a feat probably not achievable by printed books. With e-books, there is no hassle in carrying heavy books around, only a smart phone or a tablet or a dedicated reader is sufficient. 

These e-books can be used absolutely anywhere (except for probably not under water) and can be taken literally wherever you go.

Reading e-books is easy as well, users say, and they are happy that with most devices, the font size can be adjusted, brightness can be controlled and has good battery backup since it only handles light operations.

Books on the other hand, are prized possessions, mostly to the older generations. One does not have to worry about someone stealing their book, unlike devices like Kindle that get stolen soon as it is left alone. The pride and joy of finally having a book after searching for a long time, is irreplaceable by any electronic device. No audio book substitutes the reading of classic bedtime stories to children. Nothing beats the nostalgic smell of books, both old and new. Gifting books can never be swapped with downloading new e-books as presents.

The older generation still appreciates printed books, yet is ready to balance between the advancements in publishing and the traditional methods. A generation is in the making that is born into a world that teaches them no values, respect or love. Books used to teach us all things good. Books used to let us create, imagine and explore realms and worlds beyond reality. Books used to be treasured as most precious possessions by those who used to love reading. Although online publishing has gained momentum, printing is very much still alive and will continue to live on for a long time. 

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