Every time I visit a city, there is a must-go place for me to go and that is the bookstore, the biggest they can offer! Why is that a must-go for me? Because it can tell me a lot about the culture and highly demanded skills and knowledge in ONE SINGLE place!
I love going to the biggest bookshop the city I am visiting has to offer. I want to discover the reading culture of the particular city. From the bookstore, I get to know the city a lot:
1. What do the population usually read by looking at the different topics that the books are classified.
2. I also get to see books written on interesting topics per the cities, for instance semiconductors design.
3. If you spend time further on it, you get to see how they look at the different countries and their cultures.
4. I get to see what are the high read topics based on the number of shelves allocated.
5. If I hit the jackpot, I get to see the education system of the city as well by looking at the reference books and the topics covered in each level of education.
That is why I can spend an hour at least in these bookshop and the above are information I get on the workforce, economy and the reading culture of the city I am visiting.
Stakeholders & Their Roles In Building A Strong Reading Culture
Any countries which are keen to develop their workforce should build a strong reading culture, to help the population keep an open mind and constantly upgrading themselves with the latest. Reading culture is especially important for cities like Singapore where HR is the only natural resource that we have.
To have a good reading culture, I felt that the diversity of topics and the discourse presented by the books are very important. To achieve that, a publishing ecosystem is going to be very important and the stakeholders involved will be publishers, authors, translators, public libraries and government.
Publishers will need to continuously seek and encourage local authors that can increase the perspectives of topics of interest, taking into account the writing style can keep and increase the interest, and motivation to research further. Publishers should seek books in other languages that might interest and add to the discussions of different topics. Getting a good variety of perspectives and topics, followed by curating good authors will solve one side of the coin.
The ecosystem need good authors who can add on more perspectives, increase the depth of discussion or provide a good thinking process/structure to grow the knowledge of readers. Governments can step in to offer grants and cover the cost of publishing the first book of new but promising authors. The Government will need to form a committee of established authors to oversee the process, set up a simple policy rules to determine if the promising new authors can get the grant to publish. Once the new book is published, multiple copies of the book should be distributed to the different public libraries to promote and lend it out to the public. This will be a good way to market, plus also determine the book-market fit.
Translators plays an important role to ensure that content does not lose its meaning in translation while maintaining reading interest (not getting too long-winded). Good translation is not easy to do given that embedded inside any language are a lot of history, culture, language evolution etc. Moreover, we all know word for word translation does not work given the different grammatical rules and abstract meaning embedded in the different words.
Public libraries plays the role of curation and "checking" the commercial bookstores. Public libraries should also seek out and provide a large variety of topics. It can be a distribution channel for new and promising authors as mentioned before. Public libraries can play the role of reducing the risk of buying "wrong" books (books written by authors that has nefarious intent to mislead, misinformed or pushing personal vendetta) by not having them on the shelves i.e. not endorsing them. The free to borrow books, allow readers to sample books first before purchasing them at the bookstore.
It takes an ecosystem to support and reinforce a good reading culture, which I believed can be a deciding factor for any countries keen to compete in the Artificial Intelligence or in a broader sense, the Knowledge Economy. Governments can come in to facilitate but not manage the processes, to encourage more publishers, authors that can add perspectives to any discussions, topics, skills and industry that it is keen to develop. Only with this increased perspectives, can a country grow its economy well and strong imo.
What are your thoughts on this?
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