Many people, in this era of the IPads, Tablets and Kindles, love the feel of paper and print in their hands. There are also those who experience withdrawal symptoms if they do not have a book to read. In fact some bookworms even have two or three books in the process of being read simultaneously!
Much as we would like to believe that everybody reads, hordes of people would not have read a book in their lifetime—even if they are literate. There is this hardcore band of people who read only newspapers and magazines. In fact many women prefer reading magazines as they do not find the time to sit down to a book.
Students in Indian colleges and ‘varsities will confess that they rarely open their textbooks until the last few weeks before their exams. In fact some may only open the texts on the day before the exam. In fact, guide books for subjects get sold faster than actual text books. Publishing guide books for prescribed texts and according to syllabus of subjects is a huge money-spinner.
In universities an open book exam is held to test students on their understanding of a subject and not on their recall and memorization. The students are allowed one or any number of books that they can refer to while answering the exams. Many students initially think that an open book test is a cakewalk. However there are many pitfalls like limited time and the need to be properly organized to quickly find data, quotes, examples etc. Most often a student may spend most of the time flipping pages searching for a solution, especially if he is not familiar with the book, than actually answering the exam paper.
A genre of management books and autobiographies, biographies and hagiographies written about Corporations and companies and leaders who have made a mark is very popular. Books revealing the secrets for successfully entering the stock market, handling shares and investments and insurance too promise to open up a treasure chest of ‘insider information’ that will teach you “How to become a millionaire in thirty days”.
Today, books are not referred to just to study a subject. Learning a language is also facilitated through phrase and beginner conversations books. Self-help books, tomes on soft skills about how to behave in a particular setting, approach a problem or issue in a workplace or social situation, are finding a huge readership. These books are also tremendously popular in the vernacular languages. The ‘Dummy’ series is a hugely successful self-help book that has become iconic for making everything easier in your life with step-by-step instruction, how-to information, and video demonstrations.
Book shops carry a big inventory of expert advice on marriage, pregnancy, child birth and child rearing—how to handle difficult kids in matters of food, relationships, behavioural issues, inter personal and intra personal matters. Learned publications on how to handle diseases are very popular though they can become a weapon in the hands of a hypochondriac! Cookery, decoration, house plans and building, gardening and Feng Shui—the list is endless as the books are churned out to grab the eye of the buyer who is looking for solutions to all his/her problems from a book.
Books on tourism, maps and atlases were an important segment of schooling and leisure activities. The London A-Z is an important appendage of any visitor or resident of the city—or it used to be until GPS has made it irrelevant. TV shows and the internet boots up a great deal of information on any subject. So that lovely row of Encyclopaedias that used to decorate your living room bookshelf and proclaim your erudition has now become just dust traps.
With the collapse of the joint family and a patriarchal/matriarchal figure to help you through life’s reefs of troubles and travails, books or a professional counsellor have taken on the job of guiding you. Lifestyle Gurus too are publishing their thoughts and teachings as books.
So, if you are searching for a method to change your life, look for an out of book solution!