Category Archives: About Books

I have decided not to continue reading The Hindus

The Hindus

I started reading The Hindus during the recent controversy when Penguin India decided to withdraw all the copies of the book and pulp them. People criticized the book and it was being suggested, rightly, that before you criticize a book, the least you can do is, read it first.

My Kindle reader says that I have read 15% of the book and I think this much reading is enough to let me decide whether I want to go on reading it or put a stop. Due to time constraints reading a book is a very special time for me and I don’t like wasting this time, and this is exactly what I seem to be doing while reading this book. As the title suggests, the book is about Hinduism, but if I want to read something on Hinduism, if I really want to learn something, why would I read something tongue in cheek, off the mark (the writer herself says that) and primarily meant to be read by people who look at Hinduism as outsiders – as if you are observing the behaviour of slightly amusing people you are not emotionally connected to.

Is this book objective? No way. What puts you off is that it is totally biased against Brahmins, Sanskrit texts and the Vedas. As a critical appraisal, there is nothing wrong in that. Every major religion in this world has had its fair share of screwed up peoples, traditions, practices and whatnot. Every major religion in this world has treated its women like shit during one age or another. In order to understand history, culture and social dynamics, one must learn all these things, but not from a person whose sole purpose is to just deride a complete religion and undermine its existence. I fully understand that there must be something wrong with the basic philosophy of the hodgepodge of religions of the continent and that’s why this continent, along with Africa, has so far been in such a dire state, but it doesn’t mean that everything was cheap, plebeian and fully lacking foresight and vision. In India we have had great philosophers, thinkers, human rights crusaders, literateurs, scientists, politicians and artists. I’m neither a historian nor a very well read person, but I know enough history to be able to differentiate between an out and out derision and an objective description of the events of the past.

If you go by what she has written

  • Every ritual can be attributed to a sexual connotation
  • Every single Sanskrit word can be interpreted at your whim, so if you want to give a sexual connotation to a particular Shloka, you can have a free hand at it
  • Almost every respectable thing in Hinduism comes from other regions and religions – nothing purely comes from Hinduism
  • Hinduism is basically a pagan religion replete with instances of sexual gratification with animals, extreme form of suppression of women and the so-called lower class people, various patterns of barbarities like human and animal sacrifice, and impalement and amputation
  • Most of the godly features can be traced back to sexual organs – even Ganesha’s trunk can be equated with a misplaced phallus
  • Freudian indications of all-pervasive erotic manifestations are practically everywhere in Hindu texts and images
  • Islam and Christianity are extremely peaceful and cultured compared to Hinduism
  • Basically, Hinduism is nothing but a Caligula-type extremely twisted sexual orgy.

Of course there are many factual errors in the book that you can easily detect if you make subconscious effort.

I’m not saying that this book should not be read or it should be censored or its writer should be attacked. None of that. As an outsider if you want to look at a religion from a morally higher ground, then sure, do read

Review of Pompeii the book

Pompeii-the-novelPompeii was one of the most famous cities of the ancient Roman Empire that was completely decimated by the eruption of Vesuvius, in 79 A.D. The novel is about a water engineer, Marcus Attilius Primus, who is sent to the city of Misenum where the aqueducts have stopped. Misenum primarily acts as a naval base and now it is totally bereft of water. The previous water engineer of 20 years has mysteriously disappeared and the new engineer, although highly reputed for his intelligence, is inexperienced for this particular region.

The water engineer has to either figure out what has caused the main aqueduct to stop, or find a new, even if temporary, source of water so that there is no unrest in the city. He finds the signs of water up the hill shadowing the city, but defying all logic and his knowledge, he doesn’t find the water. When he comes back he straightaway goes to check the underground city reservoir to find exactly how much water is left. The extreme smell of sulphur almost drives him mad. While he’s totally bewildered by the smell, his supervisor and other accompanying slaves accuse him of inexperience. Exomnius, the previous aquarius, they complain, would know exactly what was wrong. Attilius often wonders where the previous aquarius has gone and he suspects that he has been killed and his body has been disposed of somewhere. Who has done that, and why, no one seems to know. Corax, his supervisor, seems suspicious and unnaturally hostile to him.

Totally clueless, while he readies himself to rest in his chamber, the daughter of a freed slave, Numerius Popidius Ampliatus, who has now become a millionaire by rebuilding Pompeii after an earthquake had devastated the city 17 years ago, seeks his help because her father is about to put to death the son of her slave nanny due to no fault of his. A romance blossoms.

The son of the slave nanny is being fed to the killer fish because a very precious bunch of fish belonging to Ampliatus have died due to poisoning under the son’s watch. While being put to death the son of the nanny slave screams “call the aquarius, he knows why the fish has died!”

Although Attilius is unable to save the hapless slave, he finds that sulphur in the water has killed the fish. Again, he has no idea why there is so much sulphur in the water.

What he knows is, where the aqueduct must be broken, where he has to go, how many men and how much material he needs and in how much time he can mend the aqueduct.

Thence begins his journey, on a warship as well as on the shaky terrain of the city of Pompeii where sin and splendour go on concomitantly while the restless earth rumbles beneath. Every incident is a step towards that fateful day when Vesuvius will erupt and hundreds of thousands of people will perish in the burning ash riding on the shockwaves. This is a story of not just devastation of monumental proportions, it is also a story of extreme greed, extraordinary courage, and a conviction to go on even when death awaits you.

This is an out and out adventure story interspersed with scientific facts about what precedes before a major eruption, referenced from books on volcanology, seismology and geography. It’s written by Robert Harris.

The withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s book and the text of the petition against it

The Hindus by Wendy Doniger
Update: An interesting point that is being raised is that instead of raising a hue and cry against Penguin, the left-libs are going after Dinanath Batra who was simply exercising his right. It is Penguin who has decided to withdraw all the copies of the book and pulp them instead of fighting it out in the court. These people don’t want to piss off Penguin for obvious reasons.

The problem is with the 1st Amendment. In India, freedom of speech is not absolute, it is subject to conditions and it can be challenged by anybody (and hence, Wendy Doniger’s book was challenged). If your freedom of speech offends my religion or hurts my sentiments, I can easily sui you.

Instead of baying for the blood of the person who is merely exercising his right, people should strive for change of the Constitution.

Update ends

At the time of writing this I haven’t read Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus – An Alternative History but I have downloaded a digital copy from the various links being posted on the Internet with a missionary zeal to protect “freedom of speech”.

Before downloading a free copy (PDF and EPUB versions) I tried to purchase it from Amazon through my Kindle, but somehow it is not possible to purchase it may be because as Penguin has decided to withdraw all the existing copies, maybe the digital copies – the ones that are sold through proper channels – aren’t available too.

You can be judged by the company you keep and this was my first reaction when I saw what sort of people were defending Wendy’s book. I’m not saying I’m in favor of banning books and not allowing people to read something that they want to read, but when certain people say that Wendy Doniger is an authority on Hinduism, I’m made to wonder exactly what sort of authority has she manifested to earn praise from these worthies?

Penguin has withdrawn all the published copies of the book because the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti had filed a lawsuit for the withdrawal of the book. The lawsuit claims that the book has been written with a Christian missionary’s zeal.

Now you may find the expression “the Christian missionary’s zeal” a bit puzzling and unless you have been sensitized about this whole parallel universe going on you won’t understand the depth of it. In my review of Breaking India – Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines I had written:

Christian organisations play a prominent part in raking up cultural, religious and social divides to propagate their own ideologies. Their basic methodology is, weaken cultural roots in the name of secularism and then gradually expose people to Christianity. Billions of dollars of funds are channelised to support these missionary organisations. You will be amazed to find renowned and prestigious institutions and organisations pumping money into India to instigate one religion against another.

If you think it is conspiracy theory, maybe it’s time you brushed up your reading.

Anyway, should books be banned or banished the way Penguin has been made to do? Legal recourse is not as bad as it seems, as pointed by my wife with whom I was discussing the issue in the morning while having tea. “At least people are not being beheaded or stabbed, or at least there are no bomb explosions as it happened in the case of The Satanic Verses,” she said, and I agree with her. It is silly to compare the reaction to the Wendy Doniger’s book to the reaction to the Salman Rushdie book. If Hindus didn’t like the book, they filed a lawsuit instead of issuing death threats.

That settled, one must think why a big publisher like Penguin chose to withdraw the case instead of slugging it out in the court? What was there in the book that was indefensible? Wouldn’t it be preferable to fight the case, lose it and let the book be banned with your disagreement fully expressed, rather than meekly giving in to your opponent and withdrawing your book? After all, even if reluctantly, Penguin stood by Salman Rushdie even in the face of international Islamic terrorism.

The full text of the notice sent to Wendy Doniger, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd by Dina Nath Batra

Why the controversy? I haven’t read the book yet, but according to the various sources available on the Internet, the book not only contains lots of factual inaccuracies, it also distorts many Hindu beliefs and philosophies. How it distorts, I have no idea because one, I haven’t read the book yet, and two, I’m not an authority to decide what is correct and what is not factually and historically correct. Presented below are a few extracts of the petition that was filed and it may give you an idea of what might had been the problem.

Throughout the book, Doniger analyzes revered Hindu Gods and Goddess using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations. Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized.

Here is a list of factual errors presented in the petition:

Maps in front pages: Maps titled Indias Geographical Features and India from 600 CE to 1600 CE

COMMENT: In the first map, the Waziristan Hills area is marked erroneously as Kirthar Range. The Kirthar Range is at least 200 miles further south. In the third map, Janakpur, Nagarkot, Mandu and Haldighati are marked several hundred miles from their correct geographical location.

Pg. 67 – It is claimed that the entire Harappan culture had a population of 40,000!

COMMENT: This is estimated as the population of Mohenjo-Daro alone. The population of the entire culture is estimated around 500,000.

Pg 112 – Wheat is mentioned as a food item in the Rigvedic period.

COMMENT: Wheat is not mentioned in the Rigveda at all. It first occurs in the Maitrayani Samhita of the Yajurveda.

Pg 130 – The author claims that there are no Gods in the Vedas who are Shudras.

COMMENT: It is anachronistic to assign castes to Rigvedic deities, but nevertheless, Pushan, Vesmapati and others have been considered Shudra deities in later times.

Pg 194 fn.- Gandhi’s commentary on the Gita (a sacred Hindu scripture) was titled ‘Asakti Yoga’ (translated as the science of deep attachment).

COMMENT: The title of Gandhis work is ‘Anasakti Yoga’ (trans. Science of non-Attachment).

Pg 206 – The book wrongly states that the Hindus had only a triad of passions.

COMMENT: Hindu scriptures list six main evils and the concept of shadripus (six internal enemies) is very well known.

Pg 441 – The book claims that Firoz Shah redeemed a number of Hindu slaves

COMMENT: A misrepresentation of the fact that he employed (not redeemed) 12,000 of his 180,000 slaves forcibly in royal factories for producing articles of consumption by Muslim elites. No manumission was involved.

Pg 445 – Dates of Saint Kabir are given as 1450 1498.

COMMENT: His demise is believed to have occurred in 1518, and the traditional date of birth is 1398.

Pg 448 – In 713 Muhammad ibn Qasim invaded Sind.

COMMENT: Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sind in 711.

Pg 450- It is claimed that Emperor Ala-ud-Din Khalji did not sack temples in Devagiri.

COMMENT: His contemporary Amir Khusro clearly mentions that the Emperor sacked numerous temples and raised mosques instead.

Pg 459 – King Ala-ud-din Husain of Bengal patronized Saint Chaitanya.

COMMENT: Saint Chaitanya never met the king, and left his kingdom to avoid persecution, as did his disciples. The king had destroyed Hindu temples in Orissa.

Pg 532 – Emperor Akbar moved his capital from Fatehpur Sikri to Delhi in 1586.

COMMENT: Emperor Akbar moved his capital to Lahore in 1587, and thereafter to Agra.

Pg 537-8 – The Sikh teacher Guru Govind Singh was assassinated in 1708, while ‘attending Emperor Aurangzeb’. Emperor Aurangzeb died in 1707.

COMMENT: Guru Gobind Singh was assassinated in 1708 during the reign of Aurangzebs successor, Emperor Bahadur Shah I. It is insulting to say that the Guru was attending on the Emperor.

Pg 550 – The book claims that Mirabai lived from 1498-1597, and then on p. 568, the author claims that Mirabai lived from 1450-1525!

COMMENT: Both dates are wrong and the commonly accepted dates are 1498-1547.

Pg 552 – The book claims that the Ramcharitmanas was written at Varanasi.

COMMENT: Both modern scholarship as well as tradition accept that the work (or at least most of it) was written in Ayodhya.

Section on Bibliography: Shekhawat, V. Origin and Structure of purushartha Theory: An attempt at Critical Appraisal. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research 7:1 (1900), 63-67.

COMMENT:The correct issue and year of this Journal issue are actually 8:2 and 1991. The bibliography has dozens of errors. Some references cited by Doniger simply do not exist.

Listed below are some offensive statements presented in the petition:

Clumsily written, each chapter is a shocking and appalling series of anecdotes which denigrate, distort and misrepresent Hinduism and the history of India and Hindus. Doniger uses selective quotations from obscure and non-original, peripheral and ignorant references with a bizarre emphasis on sexuality and eroticism. Cited below are only a handful of quotes along with our understanding and interpretation, with references from Hindu scripture.

Pg 40 If the motto of Watergate was Follow the money, the motto of the history of Hinduism could well be Follow the monkey or, more often Follow the horse.

COMMENT: Very derogatory and offensive. The motto of Hinduism is to follow the truth and unite with God.

Pg 112 – The author alleges that in Rigveda 10.62, it is implied that a woman may find her own brother in her bed!

COMMENT: The hymn has no such suggestion. It is offensive to suggest that the sacred text of Hindus has kinky sex in it.

Pg 128 – The book likens the Vedic devotee worshipping different Vedic deities to a lying and a philandering boyfriend cheating on his girlfriend(s).

COMMENT: This is offensive and ignores that fact that in the Rigveda, the gods are said to be all united, born of one another, and from the same source.

Pg 225 -Dasharathas son is certainly lustful… Rama knows all too well what people said about Dasharatha; when Lakshmana learns that Rama has been exiled, he says, The king is perverse, old, and addicted to sex, driven by lust (2.18.3)

COMMENT: Sri Rama is revered and worshipped as a deity. The highly acclaimed and critical edition of Valmikis Ramayana records no such statement attributed to Lakshmana. An imagined phrase, ‘kama-sakta’ is mistranslated as ‘addicted to sex’ by the author whereas it normally means filled with desires. Valmiki uses a phrase ‘samani-madhah’ (trans. Possessed of passion).

Pg 467 – Harihara and Bukka (the founders of the Vijayanagara Empire that saved Hindu culture in S India) double-crossed the Delhi Sultan when they reconverted to Hinduism.

COMMENT: The brothers committed apostasy as they had been imprisoned and forcibly converted to Islam, and immediately reverted to Hinduism when they were 1000 miles from the Sultan, under the influence of a Hindu ascetic.

Pg 468-469 -The mosque, whose serene calligraphic and geometric contrasts with the perpetual motion of the figures depicted on the temple, makes a stand against the chaos of India, creating enforced vacuums that India cannot rush into with all its monkeys and peoples and colors and the smells of the bazaar

COMMENT: It is simply unacceptable that a scholar can flippantly, pejoratively and derogatorily essentialize the Hindus as monkeys and peoples, colors and smells.., and chaos in most insulting manner with the aspersion thrown at the entire Hindu culture and community all over the world. Such generalization has no place in serious scholarly work.

Pg 509 – Shankara and the philosopher’s wife This tale contrasts sex and renunciation in such a way that the renunciant philosopher is able to have his cake and eat it, to triumph not only in the world of the mind (in which, before this episode begins, he wins a series of debates against the nonrenouncing male Mimamsa philosopher) but in the world of the body, represented by the philosophers wife (not to mention the harem women who clearly prefer Shankara to the king in bed). The author attributes the tale to Shankaradigvijaya of Madhava and to Ravichandra’s commentary on Amarushataka.

COMMENT: The author concocts the story as a sexual orgy in which the Saint Adi Shankara and King Amruka take turns making love to the latter’s wives after he is tired. Both her sources however state that the King was already dead and the Saint transferred his soul into the dead Kings body through his yogic powers. There is no suggestion in the texts that the queens prefer Shankara to the king in bed.

Pg 571- It is alleged that in a hymn from Saint Kshetrayyas poetry, God rapes the women devotees.

COMMENT: The hymn merely presents devotion using spiritual metaphors and the hymns of the Saint seen collectively depict it as a passionate love affair between the God and the devotees. No rape is implied in this hymn at all.

Again, the above is simply a sampling of the scandalous and offensive statements in the book. By her own admission in the book, Doniger has no credentials as a historian and the title of the book is misleading as the book is not on the History nor an Alternative History of India. This shows that the author is not an authority on the subject as she is not able to understand the deep meaning of Sanskrit verses or Indian Concepts. These cast serious doubts about the authors integrity as a researcher and ability to interpret accurately. Additional examples of the authors shoddy
scholarship will be made available upon request.

If you go through the contents of the petition one is made to wonder what indiscretions are available to you in the name of interpretation. What recourse people have who don’t agree to you? What makes Doniger a greater authority than the petitioner who has countered the portions in the book with his own knowledge?

As of now, I believe that the petition was filed in the right spirit.

Related links on Wendy Doniger and The Hindus

  • Wendy’s Child Syndrome — “The Bhagavad Gita is not as nice a book as some Americans think…Throughout the Mahabharata … Krishna goads human beings into all sorts of murderous and self-destructive behaviors such as war…. The Gita is a dishonest book …” — Wendy Doniger, Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago. Quoted in Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 November, 2000.
  • Wendy Doniger’s book: ‘You must tell us what terrified you’, Arundhati Roy writes to Penguin India — What are we to make of this? Must we now write only pro-Hindutva books? Or risk being pulled off the bookshelves in ‘Bharat’ (as your ‘settlement’ puts it) and pulped? Will there be some editorial guide-lines perhaps, for writers who publish with Penguin? Is there a policy statement?
  • BBC – Why did Penguin recall a book on Hindus? — Doniger, who teaches at the University of Chicago and has written nearly half a dozen books on Hinduism, including a translation of the Kama Sutra, was writing about how her 2009 book The Hindus: An Alternative History quickly became a lightning rod for Hindu anger.
  • Invading the Sacred Hinduism has become a targeted frontier because of its unique status. It is the last of the truly indigenous religions, one that has sprung forth from the land and not been supplanted by alien faiths. (Most of the other indigenous religions of the world have either been decimated or driven to the brink of extinction by colonising forces.) Among the major world religions, Hinduism is perhaps the most incompatible with Western religious frameworks. By far the oldest living religion in the world, Hinduism has been the source of the Dharmic traditions, as Judaism has been the source of the Abrahamic religions; however, it has developed along a tract distinct from that of the Semitic faiths. The core concepts of Sanatana Dharma do not translate into Abrahamic terms–dharma, karma, moksha, and yoga have no English equivalents. Yet, it continues to flourish with almost a billion adherents; it has not abandoned its rich pantheon of an infinite variety of forms and manifestations of Ishwara; from time immemorial, it has worshipped and revered Shakti, the female divine; it has not yielded to Islamic conquest or Christian conversion; and it has not obligingly morphed itself to adapt to Western paradigms. Thus, Hinduism stands apart, and in this light, may pose the most serious challenge to Western intellectual and philosophical hegemony today.
  • Why the Wendy Doniger episode is not a free speech issue The outrage over Penguin withdrawing Doniger’s book has emanated mostly from the section that calls itself secular and liberal, among other things. And this outrage cleverly sidesteps the valid and vast critiques of Wendy Doniger’s scholarship and frames the issue as one of a book ban and Hindu fundamentalism. The kind of arson and violence that erupted across the world in the wake of the Danish cartoons fits the definition of religious fundamentalism. It is clear that the petitioners simply took to legal recourse in this case. Besides, it was Penguin’s decision to voluntarily withdraw the book in an out-of-court settlement for reasons best known to it. Therefore, raising the din that freedom of expression is under threat by Hindutva forces is off the mark.
  • Oh, But You Do Get It Wrong! Doniger’s prominence and clout as a “definitive” authority in the discourse on Indian traditions and history give her views considerable significance. For, it is Doniger’s (and her colleagues’) versions of Hinduism and Hindu history (which are often at serious variance with traditional Hinduism as practised and understood by Hindus themselves) that form the curriculum of university courses, line the bookshelves of the “Hinduism” sections of bookstores (physical and virtual), and are given play in the Western and Indian mainstream press.
  • Pulping Doniger: Don’t just blame the Right; the Left paved this illiberal road — As has been said before, the best way to combat a wrong idea or distorted book is to write another view and another book to contest it with facts. This is how Arun Shourie debunked the distorted Left view of Indian history, and this is how Rajiv Malhotra is combatting – against the odds of western media biases, which is nowhere as liberal as we assume it to be – western-centric views of Hinduism and Dharmic religions. Withdrawing Doniger’s book is thus a defeat for liberal values and open debate in a democratic society.

What makes a book a classic?

This Salon article throws some light on many factors that make a book or a novel a classic. According to a Goodreads discussion thread on the same topic:

It has stood the test of time. It is filled with eternal verities. It captures the essence and flavor of its own age and had a significant effect on that age. It has something important to say. It achieves some form of aesthetic near-perfection. It is “challenging” or innovative in some respect. Scholars and other experts endorse it and study it. It has been included in prestigious series, like the Modern Library, Penguin Classics or the Library of America, and appears on lists of great books.

Not everything is classic, as you often see on television when they are showing a black-and-white movie (some of them are horrendous despite being black-and-white and despite featuring top-rated actors and actresses of the time) they say it is a classic. The same can be said about books. It is often said that there is no set formula for a book becoming a classic or a movie becoming a hit. Keeping some in the mental factors common, it is a random phenomena. For every War and Peace and Crime and Punishment there must be thousands of other books equally well-written and relevant but never saw the light of the day or never reached their intended readers. I often wonder why Shakespeare is such a reputed bard or playwright and when I read The Count of Monte Cristo I didn’t have a very high opinion of Alexandre Dumas. Similarly among Indian authors I really feel that writers like Premchand, R. K. Narain and Ruskin Bond are overrated. An author who sells a lot doesn’t necessarily become a good writer, but I think I’m entering another plane. Amritlal Nagar on the other hand, my recent discovery, is an exceptional writer and he can be easily compared to the best in the world and if I am in a position to compile my list of classics, I’m definitely going to add one of his books, especially Karvat.

There is a scholarly way of deeming a book classic and there is a personal way and I think whether a book becomes a classic all over the world is a mixture of scholarly and personal acceptance as well as a matter of chance.

Why some think that the sale of e-books is flattening

Nicholas Carr, the author of The Shallows has underlined a few points in his recent blog post about why the growth of e-books is overrated and the conventional, paper books, consequently, are underrated. According to the US data that he cites, only 25 percent of the books sold are e-books:

E-books are still taking share from printed books, sales of which declined by 4.7 percent in the quarter, but the anemic growth of the electronic market calls into question the strength of the so-called “digital revolution” in the book business. E-books now represent a bit less than 25 percent of total book sales. That’s a healthy share, but it’s still a long way from dominance. The AAP findings are backed up by a remarkable new Nielsen report indicating that worldwide e-book sales actually declined slightly in the first quarter from year-earlier levels – something that would have seemed inconceivable a couple of years ago.

I think this data is based on many presumptions and constraints. The first constraint is that it is highly U.S.-based and I don’t know what story the data from other countries tells. Second, the price of an average e-reader is still prohibitive considering the fact that people already don’t spend much money on books. Carr rightly says that there isn’t much difference between paper books and e-books in terms of pricing. If the prices are more or less the same, why do people still prefer to buy paper books? There might be two reasons:

  1. Since they have already spent a good amount of money on the e-book reader they want to hold back on spending more, despite the fact that they are defeating the very purpose of purchasing the device. Many good books can be downloaded from websites like Project Gutenberg and converted to various formats.
  2. Many people still read books for the purpose of showing that they are reading books. They want to be seen reading books and this is not possible with an e-book reader that almost looks like a tablet and most people think tablets are for browsing the net or playing games – a nonserious occupation. Reading books on electronic devices isn’t considered to be as cool as reading paper books. Conventional paperbacks and hardcovers look good on bookshelves and tables.

These are of course cultural attitudes, but they seriously impact the sale of e-books in one way or another. I’m sure over the time this attitude will change and there are many people, including yours truly, who are reading more and more books simply because they’re available in e-book formats.