The sanctity of paper and the story of Kindle

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
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There is no point in talking about the end of the paper book anymore. The eventual extinction of paper is obvious. Publishers now realize the paper book is coming to an end, and those who are smart are beginning to make adjustments accordingly.

The end of the paper book does not mean that it will disappear suddenly or that books will no longer be printed. Like others, I consider paper books to be more serious and there is a certain element of pleasure in buying a paper book. There is something unique about them but the world finds its own solutions, in keeping with its complex problems. There is nothing prettier than an elegant library and a bookworm — the paper books with their unique smell lined up between the shelves of wood.

The paper book is perishing because of the low sales, except for attractive books that the public follows such as the ‘bestselling’ section, which puts financial pressure on the publisher. The other thing is the shift in attention among masses regarding tablet devices.

The paper book is perishing because of the low sales, except for attractive books that the public follows such as the ‘bestselling’ section, which puts financial pressure on the publisher. The other thing is the shift in attention among masses regarding tablet devices

Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran

But does the perishing of the paper book mean the end of the world?! The paper book will remain important for the elite, it is a source and a reference and the basis for scientific credibility, but at the level of mass acquisition, the paper book will not be important. With the spread of piracy, books are now available in PDF format and can be read on mobile devices or iPad, which can harm the eye.

For those who have no choice but to read it in an electronic form, a desktop computer is a better option. In my opinion, this is the most despicable manner for reading a book, and should only be used when there is no other alternative. One needs to be cautious when quoting for a paper or research, and must rely on the paper research source or the exact copy purchased from Amazon or from one of the trustworthy libraries acquired legally.

Kindle curiosity

The other experience is with Kindle through the paper white. This device will not replace the paper book but with Amazon’s interest in Arabic books and the addition of thousands of books to its library, it is possible to read classical, literary and philosophical books in a secure format and with reliable copies.

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It’s been 11 years since the first Kindle was made, and modern versions of it have fascinated hearts. By purchasing the book you can shade the text you want, easily make notes, and keep your comments and selections so you can recover it and find it whenever you want to since it is automatically saved.

It has a balanced lighting, and a comfortable format that relaxes the reader and makes him feel as if he’s reading a paper book.I have been using Kindle for a year now. It is an important reading platform. Although the paper book is still the predominant means, Kindle is helpful when travelling in public places and cafes, especially if you choose your books carefully since you can download hundreds of books considering the great amount of storage in modern devices.

There is an element of extremism in sanctifying paper book which is understandable at the research level, and when we talk about the decay, we are talking about facts on the ground. We all do not want this beautiful book to fade away, and in all cases, we will continue to bring new additions to our libraries in our homes.

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Public libraries and publishing houses that are financially strong or government-backed will remain in business, but I would like to talk about upcoming actions because I hope that Arab publishing houses would collaborate with Amazon to fund a new investment by making books available on Amazon library to nurture Arabic content. This would also open up additional investment and income without any exceptional or supernatural efforts, unlike the paper book.

Arab publishing

Of course, when we remember Al-Jahiz, Borges, Manguel, Eco and other book lovers and paper addicts, we feel bitter that the Arab paper industry is collapsing, but we must always adapt and strive with publishers for more sustainable versions that are more likely to overcome the surprises of technology, especially those enjoying both the elegance, the directness, the quality, the reliability and the great content found in devices such as Kindle.

There is no point in crying over spilled milk. Paper books cannot avoid the problems they are facing and the poems of praise and tears of nostalgia are of no use. There is a different reality concerning the concept of reading and the future of the book industry. This is a sweeping reality that we have to understand, and after we do anyone is free to sing all the poems and the hymns on the holiness of the paper book. There is a difference between what we want and what really is.

Book historian and author of “A History of Reading”, Alberto Manguel wrote in his The Library at Night in the chapter entitled Library as a Shadow: “The weight of absence is as much a feature of any library as the constriction of order or space. In the library of my Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, we felt it behind the imposing wooden doors, in the welcoming gloom, and under the green-shaded lamps that reminded me vaguely of the lamps in sleeping-car compartments. Up the marble staircase, down the tiled floor, between the grey columns, the library seemed a parallel universe, both fearful and comforting, in which my own story had other adventures and other endings.”

This article is also available in Arabic.


Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat,, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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