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Paper or plastic: E-books spark debate at book fair

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Young people buying books at the 9th Cambodia Book Fair held at National Library on December 11. Hong Menea

Paper or plastic: E-books spark debate at book fair

New technologies have changed the way people learn, do business, and even build relationships. As with so many other aspects of life, the way people read has been altered by the advent of the digital age.

More and more people are embracing e-books, as they are cheaper and lighter than their paper alternatives. However, not everyone is embracing the new tech, with at least one student adamant that reading from a paper edition was far more effective.

Fourth-year student Long Meng Chheang likes reading books rather than e-books. He said the tactile sensation of opening the cover and turning the pages meant he felt more connected to a book.

“I used to read e-books, but they led to eye strain and I didn’t feel a real connection,” he added.

He admitted that e-books did seem to be growing in popularity, especially through dedicated e-readers like the Kindle, which could store thousands of titles and had a matt-finish screen which would not strain people’s eyes like reading on a phone or tablet could do.

New graduate who identifies herself as Marady understands that the goal of reading is to seek and acquire knowledge, so it is the content that is important, rather than the form of the book. With that being said, she likes reading books in person. She like the sensation of holding a book, and even says the smell of a new book is a drawcard for her.

“Although reading e-books is more modern and less costly, I still choose to buy paper editions of the books I like. I can also display them in my home,” she added.

Another youth who only gives her first name Sopheakvy said she prefers e-books to paper copies.

“Reading e-books enables me to save money. I can take more books along with me, without taking up the space or dealing with the weight of physical books,” she added.

“When I open my phone, I am reading a book, rather than scrolling up and down through social media feeds which is a total waste of time. Every time I look at my phone, I think about reading,” she continued.

She said that reading e-books was easier than physical copies, as she could access translation and dictionary functions through her phone while reading. She could also select the option of having the content read to her, meaning she could listen to a book while doing something else.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona spoke at the recently held 9th Cambodia Book Fair, where she urged the youth of the nation to become regular readers. She encouraged parents to buy books and keep them in their homes to cultivate a reading habit among children at an early age.

She also praised a recent initiative that would see books being distributed in prisons. This was symbolic of the concept that knowledge could be acquired anywhere, she said.

Sackona weighed in on the paper vs digital debate, saying she preferred the tactile sensation of reading traditional books.


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