KUALA LUMPUR: With various e-book reading applications on smartphones available for free, the convenience of digital books still cannot match the satisfaction one gets from reading printed books.
Layar Minda Publications publisher Norden Mohamed believes although the per copy costs are higher due to costs of shipping, demand for printed books is still high among Malaysians.
“If the readers are from the physical book age, I believe it is harder for them to switch to online reading as they tend to have an emotional attachment to every book that they hold and touch. For young people, however, e-reading will definitely be their choice because it is cheaper and accessible for those with financial constraints,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
The advisor of Alaf 21 novels who is also former chief editor of Sinar Harian, added that cultural factors too have an influence on the choice of reading medium among the public.
“Parents in the west, despite being surrounded by more advanced technology, still choose printed materials for their children and this can be seen from the books which they read to put their children to sleep.
“They prefer using printed books for bedtime stories because they believe physical interaction can stimulate a child’s brain and motor development as compared to the use of gadgets. This is in contrast to Asian parents who prefer the use of devices as interactive learning materials including e-reading,” he said.
The Suci Hidayat novelist added that readers were still going for printed books as compared to e-books despite the emergence of various technologies and applications for reading materials including novels.
“If we go by the figures, out of 7,000 copies of my novels sold, only two readers will probably request for the softcopy edition. Usually these readers stay abroad and if the books are posted, it will take a lot of time and will cost them more,” he said.
Meanwhile, an engineer at a private company, Benjamin Arshad said printed books give him more satisfaction especially when they are arranged neatly on the shelves.
“I love the smell of a book and holding a book while flipping through the pages, has a therapeutic effect on me. Besides, the books are not that heavy and can be carried practically anywhere.
“As for the price, I can get discounts at book festivals or at shops while on promotion” he said.
National Library of Malaysia (PNM) director-general Datuk Nafisah Ahmad said the transition to online reading has significantly increased due to changes in digital lifestyle and growing broadband penetration.
PNM developed the u-Pustaka or ubiquitous library project, a national information hub to create a knowledge-based culture through digital library services which has seen an increase in e-book borrowings.
According to her the u-Pustaka service received encouraging response, adding that from 3,176,538 surfers who had utilised the portal in 2016, the number had increased to 4,093,510 in 2017. — Bernama