ISLAMABAD: Import of books declined by 45.89 per cent in fiscal 2014-15 to Rs71.453 million from Rs132.898m in 2013-14. Pakistan imports books from 45 countries.
The daily Dawn quoted the Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir as saying that local publishers were more interested in publishing syllabi and local books.
This information was provided by the minister in a written reply to Senator Samina Abid, it was revealed in the Senate on November 6, 2015. Analysts blame the decline on higher cost of imported books and the growing trend of reading books online.
According to the Dawn report an imported book costs 18pc more than its original price, which includes 6pc withholding tax and 1pc to 10pc customs duty. There is no sales tax on import of books, he added while further revealing that this declining trend was caused by a 71pc fall in import of dictionaries and encyclopaedia whose import value fell to Rs22.785m from Rs79.244m. India contributed 85pc import of dictionaries and encyclopaedia which also declined by 67pc to Rs19.447m from Rs59.281m. The remaining imports come from Singapore, the UAE, Germany, Canada, US and UK.
According to an earlier report published in daily Nation on Sept. 6, 2015 “None could be a person’s best friend as compared to friendship with books” is a famous adage followed by book lovers in old golden days.
There was a time when book lovers always remained in search of good books everywhere, they considered books as their best friends and thought nothing was as satisfying to their reading instinct as the habit of reading latest and interesting books. No doubt, reading is one of the most important ways of education and therefore the books are very powerful as they can be read by a large number of people and thus opinions reflected in the books spread.
But unfortunately, it has become a rare feature nowadays. Book reading habit is on decline because of rapidly integrated computer technology where anyone could access any time by spending a meagre amount and, that too, without leaving their homes.
APP news agency on April 18, 2014 reported a sharp decline in reading habits has been observed in the country during the last three decades, as books have been replaced by cell-phones, computers, laptops, iPads and tablets; and the youth are the most affected segment of the society. There is an old saying that ‘book is the best friend’. However, in era of technology, the time to be spent on reading books is now being spent on surfing the Internet with these gadgets.
The report quoted researchers as saying that the main factor responsible for this decline is our educational system and teaching practices especially at the primary level. At one time school libraries used to have a good collection of books accessible to the students. Now modern technology has increased the literacy rate, but at the same time habit of book reading has also declined. For improvement in book reading habit, they say that younger generation requires more attention and counselling from the parents.