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01 April 2018 Arab Publishers Association Meeting, Rachad: There is no way the e-books could overcome paper books
Arab Publishers Association Meeting, Rachad: There is no way the e-books could overcome paper books

Amid outstanding culturally rich presence, the 18th Bahrain International Book Fair, held Under the Patronage of His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, May God Protect Him, and organized by Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities, continues to lure to many librarians and book lovers to its specially set tent near Arab Fort. In a meeting with, Mohammad Rachad, President of Arab Publishers Union, CEO of Al Dar Al Masriah Al Lubnaniah and Maktabet Al Dar Al Arabia Lel Ketab, in Egypt, he expressed his happiness to participate in the book fair held every two years, lauding the youth amazing presence and attendance.

Asked about the competition between the e-books and the paper books in the Arab world, Mr. Mohamed Rachad argued that there is no real issue here, adding that “ We in the Arab world tend to come up with issues out of the blue, thinking that this the real matters the world is facing, such as the idea of clash of civilizations, treated only by a limited number of international writers, but intensively and exponentially by a great number of Arab writers and journalists”. Mr. Rachad added “ The same thing applies to whether e-publishing will have the last word against the paper publishing? Who will win etc.? the only truth here is simply that content should be spread and published regardless of the means, given that publication is not a modern idea.”. In his speech about the history of publication, Mr. Rachad pointed out that publishing and disseminating information existed since ancient times, the first beginnings being the caves’ writings, using leather for writing, Egyptian papyrus rolls, Assyrian clay tablets and fragments containing texts of all kinds in Iraq, until the invention of the invention of printing in Europe, which is usually attributed to Johannes Gutenberg in Germany. Gutenberg’s achievement was not a single invention but a whole new craft involving movable metal type, ink, paper, calming nowadays in microphone, press and e-publishing. Mr. Rachad also said “ The conflict issue between e-books and paper books is raised in the Arab world as a pretext for deserting reading and increased lack of reading culture. In fact, many families, schools and mass media in the Arab world do not help to develop reading skills as simple as that. The e-books is only a scapegoat “.Book reading in the Arab region is believed to be lower than in regions of similar economic status, but this has not been tested using nationally representative data.

Mohammad Rachad, President of Arab Publishers Union, also argued that the issue of this imaginary battle between the e-books and papers books does only exist in the Arab world, given that the last two years statistics done by the World’s Publishers Union indicated a decrease in e-books’ sale in America and Europe; from 36% to 22%, and from 24% to 16% in England. All these small and moving efforts by book lovers focus on the readers themselves. There is much evidence that the habit and pleasure of reading starts young, and that having books in the house and being read to when one is a child are significant factors in building a lifelong habit of reading. “But our Arab families do not encourage their children to read, and Arab governments should realize that the basic elements of any economic, social or political development is the culture. There governments should spend more on culture and education intensively if we want to move forward and progress”. The main distribution channel in the Arab world consists in the book fairs. There is approximately one book fair a month in each main city of the Arab countries, and publishers use this opportunity to physically transport their books from their country to another, and sell their books to readers and book sellers alike.

Mr. Rachad added arguing that the sociocultural notion of cultural tools is highly pertinent to a study of book reliance in Arab countries. Cultural tools are entities that either promote or impede reading and learning, and can be physical entities such as libraries, books, money, or smartphones, and also nonphysical entities such as a theory or language dialect. The Arab region has a number of specific cultural tools, both physical and nonphysical, believed to impede book reading, including weak library networks, financial and infrastructural barriers to Internet and mobile broadband access, censorship by governments and religious officials, and spoken colloquial dialects that vie for competency with Modern Standard Arabic. Sociocultural theory is related to social–cognitive theory in its recognition that social forces are central to learning processes, but the notion of cultural tools is one of the distinguishing factors, which argues that both physical and abstract tools advance and limit learning. Arab and Islamic regions were at the height of the educational world in much of the medieval era, and Islamic communities were among the world’s most bookish . That is not believed to be the case today, and literacy rates vary considerably across the Arab region. Therefore, “Arab countries should built more free public libraries for the low-income families to encourage their children to read and not use the non-availability as a pretext”.

Speaking about the e-book vs print debate, Mr. Rachad Mohamed said that has been one that our generation has debated for years now; while some people believe print books, like dictionaries, applied science materials should exist with paper books; literary and intellectual writings because print books are simply more pleasurable to read. When you go through the physical process of reading a printed book, it isn’t just about absorbing text. It’s about taking in the scent of the pages. It’s about absorbing the warmth of the book and feeling like you are connecting with the stories and authors. Since 1440 paper books have been around and the will, and both forms of books should co-exist without the need to fight enter into existential battle”, Mr. Rachad concluded.

As to reading in general, Mr. Rachad Mohamed, expressed his regret that in GCC countries, that grant some e-bloggers the right to write down and document their thoughts as an inspirational talented ideas worth to be published, some books were released and published without meeting quality standards. This “ phenomenon” as he calls it, needs a more united action to be taken with regard to encouraging reading since an early age to develop as an everlasting habit despite the existence of e-book options.

Finally, Mr. Rachad Mohamed expressed his pride and appreciation for attending Bahrain International Book Fair, thanking H.E Shaikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities all organizers of this event for their efforts and sense of dedication. Mr. Rachad Mohamed also lauded the perfect fair location choice, given its symbolism “ the 13th Edition of book is exceptional because it is set near an archaeological area combining past and present. the youth presence and attendance are remarkable also, which indicates the continuity to adhere to paper books”. Mr. Mohamed added “ This is not surprising in the Kingdom of Bahrain, a cradle of ancient civilization, a modern civilized educated people under a Wise leadership with all support and encouragement to achieve more and keep the people open to other nations’ greatest deeds”.


Restoration of Al-Fadhel Mosque minaret