Most people, like me, read novels on paperback copies. For us, it is essential to physically hold the book in hand, explore the pages with our fingers and take in the bookish smell. Though whenever I’ve traveled in the metro with a paperback in my hand, I have observed that quite a few of my fellow readers are either consumed in a Kindle or some other e-reader. That’s the fact guys – e-books are increasingly occupying the reading space. Such reading devices are portable, can store many e-books and are easier to manage than a 400-page physical book. Though my cringe for the digital medium got somewhat diminished yesterday.
Amid the flow of red wine and smoked chicken crepes at the Itu Chaudhary Design (ICD) studio, senior designer and Principal of ICD Lisa Rath introduced the concept of Re:Reader. The project was launched through Arundhati Roy’s Booker longlisted novel, The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness. Re:Reader aims to serve as an interactive platform to heighten the experience of reading Roy’s book. Though it is similar in design to another Booker longlisted novel, The Kills by Richard House, it distinguishes itself solely on the basis of the author’s evocative writing. It can be explored here.
Re:Reader comes out as a fresh take on experiencing the book digitally. It does not feature the book in its whole form, but rather highlights certain portions from every chapter weaved with Arundhati’s paced recitation. As the panelists, Lisa Rath and Shuddhabrata Sengupta discussed, the experience is directed towards re-reading the book rather than serving as a portal to Roy’s second novel. The 1997 Man Booker Prize winner for The God of Small Things read a section from her second novel as well, which came as a welcome break from the intense discussion.
Re:Reader definitely portrays a more evocative and interactive aspect of digital reading. It doesn’t mean to serve as a replacement for the physical copy of the book but rather intends to be a companion experience. The project has shown promise, but its future would depend on whether it is developed into an app, expanded to cover other forms of creative art like movies and documentaries, and more importantly on the response from the readers of Roy’s second novel.