Three ministries have joined hands to organise the annual Cambodia Book Fair from December 12-19. Due to Covid-19, this year’s event is called Book Week and will be held online with the theme of "Building a Closer Relationship to Books in the Covid Era”.

Cambodia Book Fair Committee representative Hok Sothi said on December 12 that last year’s 8th book fair was a great success, with 140 publishers taking part and 180,000 visitors attending the event.

He said that to develop the publishing industry in Cambodia, the committee had planned to organise an even bigger book fair this year but decided to reduce it to an online forum due to Covid-19.

“Because of the Covid-19 situation, we decided to call off the physical book fair this year,” he said.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona said books are a medium that lead readers’ minds to every corner of the world. Through reading, one can learn many things such as the customs of different ethnicities and cultures, and the wonders of mother nature.

She said even though the public can use electronic devices such as smartphones, televisions or computers for reading, books are still the preferred choice for many.

Sackona believed that even though Covid-19 is a cause for health concerns, it is not going to thwart the interest of the public in reading books.

“In contrast, it is an opportunity for us all to build a closer ‘relationship’ with books so that we spend our leisure time wisely,” she said.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha also said on December 13 that the Book Week promotes a culture of reading and raises awareness of the need for better human resource training, life skills and behavioural skills.

“The switch to an online method of organising the event in the context of Covid-19 is also a response to the increasing demand for digital education. Through these means, readers can continue to follow health safety measures,” he said.

He added that the more people read books, the more they increase their knowledge and improve their job prospects.

In a statement, the Cambodia Book Fair Committee said other than distributing books, the online Book Week has activities such as posting video clips of poets, publishers, librarians, booksellers, book development partners and an introduction to basic reading on its website.

In years past, The Cambodia Book Fair has taken place at the National Library. Whether in-person or online, the objective of the event is to promote Cambodian and foreign language books, which in turn will help boost the publishing industry in the Kingdom.