(The posts for the next few days will be a sort of dry runs)
Actually, before we attempt to answer that question, it would perhaps be pertinent to read a brief history of books. And since this is an informal medium, we needn’t look outside of the worldwide web. Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article on books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book
While that gives substantial information about the history of books, it does not really explain why we read books.
Why does one read books? Everyone has a different reason, and a different answer.
I read books because I associate the activity that not only gives me pleasure but also gives me a sense of satisfaction that I’ve spent my time well in some sort of intellectual pursuit.
Watching a movie or a documentary on television may also give me pleasure, and on occasions be perceived as an intellectual activity, but is not the same as reading a book.
With the exception of Gone with the Wind and Godfather (in Hollywood) and Devdas (in the Indian film industry; not sure I should call it Bollywood – sounds so wannabe and almost derogatory), where the movies were infinitely better than the books, I have not seen a movie that has done justice to a book.
Incidentally, Margaret Mitchell actually won the Pulitzer for Gone with the Wind. Sharat Chandra Chatterji who wrote Devdas was a major literary force in Indian literature of the pre-independence era. He is instrumental, along with Premchand, in shaping Indian sensibilities of the modern era, especially towards women.