Printed books withstand the test of time

The printed book industry landscape is still very healthy and seems to have withstood the test of time with readers from all walks of life and age groups


BOOKWORMS of yesteryears might remember the good old days, when bags were heavier and spectacles were thicker, while libraries were sanctuaries for the more eager and curious minds.

For a few decades now — thanks to the advent of computing technologies and digital electronics — with digitalisation taking over the world, everything seems to be lighter and faster.

Reading materials must be relatable to ensure readers’ attention

Paper became quite a precious commodity and people seemed to have moved on to e-books for their source of inspiration and amusement.

What used to be bags of books can now be fitted into a slim tablet or iPad, and one could switch from one book to another while being on the go.

If the “video killed the radio stars” in the 80s, one might think that e-books would be the end of those traditional printed texts.

Not really. The printed book industry landscape is still very healthy and seems to have withstood the test of time with readers from all walks of life and age groups.

Patriots Publication founder Jamalee Bashah said despite the increasing interest for e-books, people are still reading the printed versions.

“Since the last two years, the rise of social media has bred a number of people who prefer to read articles and shorter material, which might have lead to the book industry going down…

“However, sales have gone up for printed books, while the interest for e-books had decreased last year,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said during bad times for the book industry, printed materials must be generated.

“This is because people will always come back to books. It is part of our history because we’ve always been writing on things,” he said.

Write Something Useful
To garner more readers, Jamalee said publications must have something useful for its audience, and must really know what the market wants.

“We target to translate our books, especial ly for historical and defence-related books because there’s a

TMR reports that Malay love novels draw readers to books, with about 20% or 30% of them making up to MPH Bookstores’ total turnover

market — Hong Kong and the US,” he said.

He added that the material must also be relatable to ensure readers’ attention.

“We write non-fiction books and so far the feedback we have received are good. We can achieve more in the coming years because the things we write are very niche. Not many publishers cover the things that we do,” he told TMR.

Among the publication’s offerings are “Dunia Tanpa Tembok” by Ayman Rashdan Wong and “Malaysia Military Power” by Faris Jamalludin and Danny Liew.

The two books describe international diplomatic natures, and recap on contemporary world news and local military issues and facts respectively.

Subgenres and Tastes
Meanwhile, Malay love novels also seem to have have found the key to reeling the readers in, by incorporating various genres into its stories.

Lovenovel Publication Sdn Bhd director Alida Jusoh said, while love novels are centralised to one main genre, they need to be spiced up with a variety of relevant issues that could increase readers’ interest.

“Different readers have different tastes too, so we don’t just focus on the sweet and romantic scenes. We amp up on spookiness for horror-lovers and diversify our subgenre to cater to readers,” she said.

Language Has to be Relatable
Understanding the current lingo among the readers is also pertinent for the survival and longevity of any publication.

Alida said her company had to rewrite an older title that was composed in a rather classical Malay style into a more modernised language to ensure that it would meet the audiences’ demand.

She said the “older language” is not as easy to follow for the younger readers.

“So, we decided to translate it to bring the retro to our current readers and make it relatable,” she said.

The title of the book is “Dedaun Hijau Diangin Lalu”, a piece by Manaf Hamzah which was first published in 1987, and later in 2002 by Pustaka Nasional Pte Ltd.

Alida said while love novels are popular, the publication has no plan to translate their novels into English.

TMR previously reported that Malay love novels draw readers to books, with about 20% or 30% of them making up to MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd’s total turnover.