I will start by saying I do read. I am one of those insufferable people who holds those who are literate, have time at their disposal, and still don’t read, in contempt. The most meaningful conversations often happen around books. Kindred spirits are located when you share the same favourite author, the same favourite moment in a book.

But you know who is worse than the one who doesn’t read? The Book Snob. It is easy to spot them. They make their bookshelves pose. They pose in front of stacks. They shoot photos of books that have just arrived in their mail. And they moan the loudest when a bookshop shuts down. So thanks to social media, the shuttering of a South Delhi bookstore becomes, for a while, a ‘trending topic’.

But I want to ask them, when was the last time you visited a bookshop, as an end in itself? Or was it because you were early for a movie or that your friend was late? Have these same people spurned the Kindle to support the neighbourhood shop? I somehow doubt that…

After years of professing a love for the smell and feel of paper, I succumbed to a Kindle a few months ago, and I find that I am reading more than ever before. I don’t have to worry about transporting books or leaning bookshelves. And it is a liberating feeling. I enjoy seeing paragraphs that have been highlighted by other readers, as the book then transforms from a personal possession to a larger cultural artefact.

Till the end of time, I will support the library and reading rooms. Libraries hold in them memories of borrowers who came before you. They give the book multiple lives because with each new reader a book is brought to life again. But the end of the bookshop is not a tragedy in itself. It doesn’t necessarily mean people are reading less or that books are dying. It simply means the commercial model has changed. Books perish, bookshops get shuttered, readers might move on to Kindles. But let’s not wring our hands in a show of sorrow. Because what will always remain are words and reading.

Senior Assistant Editor

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