The reading culture among teens is dying out while television and computers have completely taken over. Why would a sane teenager read a book when they can play computer games or watch TV? Books are for geeks and nerds so why would a cool kid read? These are just some of the very sentiments of teenagers in Nepal.
If you talk to any book seller, they will admit that the book sales have been dropping lately. They blame the digitization of books (now known as ebooks) and unavailability of sought after books. They admit that Nepal is completely dependent on India for the import of books and so those which don’t enter India don’t enter Nepal. Further scrutiny also reveal that the customers are mostly older people rather than teenagers.
The price of books can also be blamed for the decline in sales. The normal price of a book ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 600 in average and goes only higher for more popular books. Then there is the major problem of availability. Of course in the capital and other urban areas bookshops are easily found but in the rural areas there are hardly any shops that sell books except course books. And since Nepal has more rural than urban areas most teenagers do not have access to them.
Survey of the libraries show that they are purchasing fewer and fewer books each year and the membership rate dwindling down. People just don’t have time for books anymore it seems. Another survey has proven that teenagers, not just in Nepal but all around the world are more into pulp fiction rather than books with value in literature.
Another concern among those teens who read books is that they read books in English rather than in Nepali. This is often the case with teenagers in urban areas and it is in an increasing trend.
The reign of computers and television over the hearts of teenager has the most drastic impact on their reading habits. They just aren’t bothered about reading books anymore. If we want a good story, we can just watch a movie. If we need some adventure and fun, there’s always a computer game waiting for you. So, again what importance does books have?
Well, books are portals to a different and unique world. They can make you laugh and cry, jump with joy or bang your head with irritation. Besides the joy and experience of reading a book is vastly different than watching programs or movies. Take the Da Vinci code, Life of Pi or even the Harry Potter series, people admit that the books are much better. Reading books increases your vocabulary, provides information you would not get on the internet about various subjects and forces you to think out of the box. Reading books are not just fun but they are necessary. So go ahead and grab a book. You won’t regret it!
The writer is an A-Level student at Rato Bangala School, Lalitpur.