They ran the same story with exactly the same (two books a year etc.) stats on August 27th, and in lieu of anything new to add or a more insightful take on the affair, haul up a handful of folks on the street and find out what they read.
From these five individuals (a motley group which includes a boutique owner, a dive instructor and a call-centre operator) they conclude yes, conclude, (move over National Library the experts from the Malay Mail are on the case!) that:
IT’S official — city folk would rather pick a non-serious book over quality literature any day.So I don't know what you folks are doing reading this blog.
Now I'm beginning to find it most odd (maybe it was reading the Da Vinci Code that turned me into a conspiracy theorist?) but none of my friends in education, the media, publishing, or the book retail industry (in other words the sort of folks you might expect to have a vested interest in the results of such a study) have had the opportunity to scrutinise the data and see precisely how it was gathered. The study hasn't, as far as I can ascertain, been made public.
What makes this even stranger is that the results of the 1996 study were published in book form and in fact are still available.
It does rather make you wonder ...
I guess that more than anything I'm just so tired of all the hand-wringing, the sort of Ohhh the situation is so bad I might as well coat myself in concrete and jump into the Klang river with my entire book collection chained to my ankles. (You'll have to forgive the Malay Male type voice in my head. It seems appropriate.)
It's time to begin thinking about what positive steps we can take to encourage readership. That there is a problem, we can't deny. But the problem is one that even developed countries share: readership is falling world-wide.
Meanwhile, the Malay Mail should stop its shock-horror "Isn't it awful?" posturing and follow the example of the Star. Let's have some literary news or book reviews on its pages. (The very cultured Axrai slipped in some very nice reviews on one or two occasions, but these seem to have dried up.)
I guess my message to the Malay Mail is "Don't just stand there with your mouth open, gawping. Step in and do something."