I have been e-mailing secondhand bookstores in India, trying to buy the New Delhi edition of Vikram Seth’s 1993 novel, ”A Suitable Boy.” I read somewhere that the Delhi edition used much lighter paper than the subsequently published London and New York volumes. I thought that owning one would provide the necessary incentive to read the highly praised, 1,349-page monster.
But now Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com may have the solution to my problem: Amazon Pages, which will allow customers to purchase books by the page, starting next year. No more phoning around the subcontinent; I’ll buy the first 50 pages of Seth’s masterwork and see if it holds my interest. Or maybe I’ll buy pages 1,155 to 1,246: ”Someone is stabbed in Brahmpur, someone dies / While private shame is viewed by public eyes.” (Yes, the table of contents, like Seth’s wonderful novel ”Golden Gate,” is in heroic couplets.)