Reading A Book Physically vs Reading It Online

Published Date
01 - Dec - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Dec - 2005
Reading A Book Physically vs Reading It Online
This novel is one of the greatest masterpieces of English literature. Why did I read the same book online as well as offline? Just to see which of the two offered me a better reading experience-honestly, just for kicks!

The Physical Book...
First of all, I had to get my hands on a copy of Wuthering Heights. I dropped into the nearby bookstore that I usually frequent. And there it was-the complete, unabridged version. Published by Rupa Co., it cost just Rs 70. I could scarcely believe my luck! And the book was truly delightful-its cover, design and layout had a singular Victorian charm.
Time taken: 20 minutes

The book had it all-an introductory note, the prologue, and the pages filled with the story of the doomed lovers, Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. I curled up in bed, picked up a packet of munchies and started reading. As the story unfolded, I read the first half late into the night.
Time taken: 2 hours

The next day, I carried the book with me as I had to go out of town. The to and fro journey took nearly two hours. And there I was, reading in the train, oblivious to the world. As the journey ended, I only had some 50-odd pages left. Hurrah!
Time taken: 2 hours

As I read the last few pages, I re-read certain passages in the text. No distractions here! I completed the book, finally!
Time taken: 1 hour

Total Time Taken: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Total Cost: Rs 70

... And The Softcopy
To get Wuthering Heights online, I straightway headed to the Mecca of free online text downloads on the Internet-Project Gutenberg. I nailed it in no time. To be precise, it was at
Of the two choices offered, the HTML and the plain-text version, I chose the former. I could now read the text in the font I like!
Time taken: 3 minutes

After a couple of hours of reading, I realised that reading your favourite novel on a computer is not such a good idea. Unless you can deal with a stiff neck and watery eyes. Somehow, I managed to finish a third of the novel.
Time taken: 2 hours

I proceeded with my reading online. One good thing was that whenever an unfamiliar word cropped up, I quickly looked up the online thesaurus (I prefer It's quite tiresome to lug the heavy Oxford Dictionary around!
Time taken: 2 hours

Being online, it was easy to locate a precise word or para. Also, I couldn't help visiting other Web pages to read reviews and other studies. Lots of distraction online, nevertheless, very informative.
Time taken: 2 hours

Total Time Taken: 6 hours, 3 minutes
Total Cost: Rs 0

And The Winner Is...
Despite the extras the Tech Way has to offer, I have to say that for me, the Old Way was infinitely better. In terms of portability, I could read the book wherever I wanted-like I did on the train. And it's still some time before I can afford a laptop or a handheld!
While reading e-books is becoming more commonplace, nothing beats the experience of reading a book the way it should be read-the good old-fashioned way. The feel of paper is indeed a tangible thing!

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