Not everyone would agree. And indeed, there are good reasons why the “old-fashioned” physical book still matters a lot. But we live in the digital age— which means e-books play an important, sometimes complementary role. The author Vikram Chandra recently said that he’d made a total switch to e-books. Portability and readability are two of their assets; so is access to books published elsewhere. Not to forget, e-books are cheaper to produce.
Take Kiran Nagarkar’s Ravan and Eddie, a rollicking, two-decade-old novel that remains a favorite in India. Though written in English, it wasn’t published in the U.S. for many years. The New York Review Books then decided to release Ravan and Eddie as an e-book, and now all you have to do is pay and download this classic set in Bombay. Another example is Chandrahas Choudhury’s Arzee the Dwarf. Thanks again to NYRB Lit, this more recent novel set in Mumbai is available as an e-book. Suppose one wants to read Anees Salim’s Vanity Bagh, which won the 2013 Hindu Prize for Best Fiction. Although not published here as a traditional book, it can be easily downloaded as an e-book, along with Manjul Bajaj’s Another Man’s Wife and Other Stories, which was shortlisted for the same prize.
What about Jerry Pinto’s Em and the Big Hoom, published by Aleph in India? It won the 2012 Hindu Prize and was praised by writers like Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, and Amitav Ghosh. Pinto’s novel can be downloaded by U.S. readers this June. While Em and the Big Hoom will be available here as a paperback, too, the same cannot be said about many books being released today. E-books are the most viable—and sensible— option for those who can’t (or won’t) follow the traditional publishing route.
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