While offering information and entertainment, books also provide an architecture to make sense of life. More importantly, reading civilises our inner self. And in a multiracial nation such as Malaysia, a passion for reading about each other's ways can help prevent cultural or religious conflict. Which is why any move to improve the reading habit among Malaysians -- such as the establishment of the Malaysian Book Academy -- is most welcome. The academy, launched on Friday, aims to train people for the book publication industry, and encourage writers. Admittedly, past efforts do not appear to have turned Malaysians into rapacious readers. Which is why, bearing in mind that the availability of more books does not equate to a greater readership, the academy must work in tandem with bodies such as the Education Ministry and libraries if it is to produce results.Here's Bernama's report dated 29th Feb (which, forgive me, I'm quoting in full because I think it is very important) :
The country's book publishing industry has yet to reach the desired standards with its rate of publication of less than 10,000 titles a year, National Book Development Foundation Chairman Datuk Khalid Yunus said.If this works it could be a real shot in the arm for local writers and publishers and I really am looking forward to hearing more.
He said not only were there insufficient publications for general reading, the type and quality of the publications were also limited.
"Compared with Korea and Japan, we are still far behind. Taiwan, whose population size is about the same as Malaysia, has 30,000 books published a year," he said at the launch of the Malaysian Book Academy by Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim here today.
Khalid said publication companies in the country were not managed professionally and their staff were not exposed to modern technology.
"It is for this reason that the Malaysian Book Academy is set up," he added.
He said besides collaborating with the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry, the setting up of the academy would involve cooperation with the London Book House, Insitute of Book Publishing New Delhi and the School of Publishing New York.
Meanwhile, Rais, when met by reporters later, said he believed the setting up of the academy would help overcome problems in the industry, like book tax, tax on printing machine, ways to promote publications, etc.
He also hoped it would encourage people from other races to publish books in Malay, saying that the books could be sold at the more than 2,000 rural and public libraries nationwide.
If the sale of the book reached 3,000 copies, it was already a best-seller, he added.
On reading habit in the country, Rais said people read English publications more than those written in Malay as reflected in the statistics on English and Malay newspaper readers.