Tuesday June 19, 2018

Exclusive: Is Online Reading Culture Eliminating the habit of going to Libraries?

“Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director

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Old Books in Libraries. Pixabay
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New Delhi, Apr 20, 2017: Of the many institutions suffering through the world’s metamorphosis from analogue to digital (real to virtual, offline to online), few are as beleaguered as the bedrock of our culture, the public library. Budgets are being slashed by state and local governments.

Even the best libraries are cutting staff and hours. Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

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Their information desks are seemingly superseded by Google, their encyclopedias are gathering dust. And their defining product, the one that lines their shelves, now arrives in the form of a weightless doppelgänger that doesn’t require shelves.

In the technocracy, all the world’s information comes to us on screens—desk, pocket, wrist, goggles—and no one trudges through wind and rain with library card in hand to find a single worn object.

“Libraries are screwed,” said Eli Neiburger, a Michigan library director, in a much-quoted presentation at a Library Journal conference in 2010. “Libraries are screwed because we are invested in the codex, and the codex has become outmoded.

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Gone are the days when avid readers used to sleep holding a book to their chest. Everyone wants a plug point near their bed to charge their tabs instead of a shelf to keep the books properly.

Age old is the saying that “Books are the best companion of man” but with the constantly advancing technology it seems like kindles and other gadgets are wiping away the books from the scene. No wonder, house to vast knowledge: libraries can be seen as empty spaces as the no. of book readers are reducing exponentially.

According to a survey conducted by Global Trade Talk, no. of e- readers across the world has increased to 12.8 million in 2010 and the no. has been rising ever since which evidently means a reduction in people reading the hard copy.70.8 million tablets and 16.6 million e-readers were shipped in 2012. At the end of 2015, eMarketer estimated that there are 83.4 million e-reader users in the US, with the number predicted to grow by 3.5% in 2016.

This is certainly having an adverse impact on libraries and the traditional libraries are just becoming places for “free wi-fi” where people sit and stare at their gadgets.

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However, a segment of people is still sticking to the books and has this to say regarding the latest online reading trend: Deepak Sharma, a student of Masscomedia in New Delhi said, ”Online studies are undoubtedly shattering libraries, it not only consumes eyes but also UV rays have negative impact on brain. While library gives one opportunity to act as a discoverer, connects with information and people manually and better mental exercise. Study hours, sitting postures, the incredible process of finding the desired material everything is getting a hit due to online reading and lost library culture.”

Mrs. Archana Sihag, a schoolteacher by profession says,” students are readily attracted to tabs and do not want to carry “heavy” books but it doesn’t matter how much you try, you can’t replace a book with a kindle. The feeling you get while reading a book cannot be matched with a kindle or any other means of online reading.”

Needless to say, online reading is certainly gaining popularity but people are still keeping the books around and there is a hope that this tradition will not die.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @Nikitatayal6

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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World

Bright future of books

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India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World
India Provides Good Future For Books Than Other Parts Of World. Representational image, Pixabay

After an unprecedented boom in India’s publishing industry during the past two decades, many insiders are fearful that it has now reached its saturation point. But the boom is not over, according to David Davidar, who maintains that India is “one of the most exciting book markets in the world” and its future is one of hopes.

Davidar, who was hired by the legendary Peter Mayer as one of the founder members of Penguin India way back in 1985 and ventured out to lay the foundations of Aleph Book Company some seven years ago, asserted that “there is no place to go but up” for India’s books market. Why?

“Because there is quite a lot of rubbish that is published, and as many subject areas remain unexplored, there is plenty of room for good, relevant books,” Davidar told IANS in an interview.

Open book
Open book, Representational image, Pixabay

The acclaimed publisher explained that although India publishes nearly 20,000 new books in the English language every year, many of these books are “meretricious or just downright bad.”

Davidar contrasts this unfortunate state of affairs to the fact that books will always have “a central place” in the lives of the thinking and aware individuals. And even as the consumer now has access to “more published information and entertainment than at any time in human history”, much of it (especially that found in digital form on the Internet and social media) is “of little value”, he noted.

“There will, therefore, always be room for thoughtful, stylish, innovative, insightful books (in whatever format you choose to read or access them – I am platform agnostic) for those who want to go beyond the commonplace, banal and mediocre,” he pointed out.

But the Indian book market, like anywhere else in the world, has its own hurdles and Davidar identified a small readership base, not enough retail outlets, not enough marketing avenues, low prices, high discounts, high material costs, high returns, customers who do not pay on time, customers who default on payments and so on and so forth as the major challenges faced by publishers in contemporary scenario. But there is hope as this market is always expanding.

Books
Books, Representational image, Flickr

“In India, because the bar has been so low for so long (all of us in the business have to accept some of the blame for that), and there are new generations hungry for quality information and entertainment, the future is brighter than in most parts of the world, where reading habits and publishing revenues are declining. There is no place to go but up. Great books will not die, but will continue to thrive,” he said.

Davidar has been a publisher for over a quarter century and has published several of the country’s finest writers, including Shashi Tharoor, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Khushwant Singh, Ruskin Bond, R.K. Narayan, Amitav Ghosh and Jeet Thayil. He is currently the Managing Director and Publisher of Aleph Book Company, a literary publishing firm he co-founded in 2011.

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He has also authoredce three novels “The House of Blue Mangoes” (2002), which was published in 16 countries, and became a bestseller in six of them; “The Solitude of Emperors” (2007), which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize; and “Ithaca” (2011). (IANS)