Lebanese bookworms seek affordable pleasure amid protracted economic crisis

When a protracted economic crisis continues striking most Lebanese citizens, it is no reason to think that bookworms could be immune from its effect as a crashing local currency has rendered books something of a luxury.

Everyone can easily feel the squeeze amid the soaring cost of living in the Middle Eastern country, and reading has become a kind of luxury with the rising price of books.

Easy and affordable access to ebooks brings back the pleasure of reading to many Lebanese. Lana Khalife, a 20-year-old journalism student, told Xinhua that she recently got a tablet to download ebooks to encourage herself to read as it is essential for her future career.

For Sara Demachkie, a 23-year-old lawyer living in Beruit, reading in a digital way allows her to keep up with her reading hobby, which would save her money and make her private library available even when she is on the move.

Kamal Yazigi, Executive Vice President at the American University of Technology, said that digital transformation is definitely a double-edged sword.

In Yazigi’s view, social media overwhelms people with so much fragmented information that they no longer focus on books that are considered the most accurate and essential references.

“On our mobile phones, we receive many things to read every minute. Full of noise and distraction, we feel overwhelmed and tend to be contented with reading the headlines. We don’t go further.” Yazigi said.

He noted that people might be more encouraged to read if the Lebanese libraries allow people to bring books home to read without having to buy them in bookstores.

Lebanese Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada told Xinhua that the ministry is working to enrich the national library with more books by asking each publishing house to provide copies of their printings, adding that more book-related activities for all ages will be launched.

The ministry is also working to popularize public libraries in different regions and provide all possible facilities within the available capabilities, added Mortada.

He said with efforts, annual book fairs have received an increasing number of people despite the economic crisis. ■

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