Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harping about Harry

A ‘leaked original edition’ of the final Harry Potter adventure ‘The Deathly Hallows’ may be available on the net. Even if its content is legitimate, an e-book cannot replace the charm of paper

The release date of the last book in the Harry Potter series looms large in our collective media space and the hysteria of appropriating a copy for oneself has reached its pinnacle. Last I checked in the news about a million copies, and still counting, of Potter books are booked in advance.

Amidst this madness, original copies of the last edition are doing the rounds of shareware programs and even via zipped email files. The ‘originality’ of the e-book is a contentious issue. The author may not invariably remain J.K. Rowling in all those editions, contrary to what is printed. A talented person with an active imagination and well versed with words may have filled in the chasm left behind by Miss Rowling.

A person fairly acquainted with the internet can avail of these ‘leaked original version’ of the book with minimal effort. A search on google or any popular shareware sites will satiate the lust to know and be the first one to read the hallowed final account, if not in the world then in one’s own clique.

But is it worth it? The experience of reading a well written book is much more than internalizing information in the presented sequence. The medium in which it is offered is the very characteristic that defines that experience.

A book to me more than just a collection of black ink lines on a white paper. An e-book cannot emulate it. The feel of paper is distinct. The rustling sound made while exploring the depths of a plot. The sweet smell of a new print or the damp musty fragrance of an old edition. It all adds to the enigma of reading.

The journey that one undertakes with the turn of a page and the gradual progression of a mesmerizing narrative revels in the ordinary and yet charming demeanor of an innocuous book. The same cannot be said of an e-book. The strain of staring at the ubiquitous glow is disturbing at best. It is like staring at a bulb and trying to read the fine print on it.

In matters of academics, communication and even small prose, the computer can be very a simple and inclusive instrument. But while reading a novel or any work of fiction the characters are lost in translation amongst the embedded binary and the drone of processing. It just doesn’t feel right.

The techies might call me a hypocrite for turning on the very medium that empowers and I don’t blame them either. I love reading blogs online and the elusive International Herald Tribune web edition. But in matters of fiction my heart craves paper.

I will wait my turn and lay my hands on the copy when I am assured of time on hand. With the rains lashing out at the frenzy in which we exist, I long to curl up on my favourite couch, tucked away in the warmth of a blanket. Away from the madness, immersed in a beautiful world the memories of a journey will linger on.

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