KOCHI: With summer vacations in full swing, Kochi libraries are all set to welcome bookworms. Major libraries in the city, including the Ernakulam Public Library, Eloor Library and EMS Library, Kakkanad, are cashing in on the season. Not just libraries, various bookshops in the city too are offering discount rates, to lure readers.
The trend is encouraging, considering that the growing popularity of e-books, has not affected the readership in the city. “I don’t think the reading habit of people is dying. In my
15-year experience here, I have only witnessed an increase in the number of people visiting the library,” says Priya K Peter, joint librarian, Ernakulam Public Library. The membership has crossed over 10,000 with its prime population being youngsters.
Her words also reflect the fact that not any bookstore or library in the city has been affected due to lesser footfalls.
The majority of visitors are students up to class 8. "However, there is comparatively lesser readership in the class 8-class 12 categories. Academic pressure, along with entrance coaching classes and tuitions, keep away teenagers above class 8. And, college students visit the library mainly for research and project works” adds Priya K Peter.
Madhusoodanan V T, circle manager, DC Books Ernakulam agrees. "Youngsters and school children are our main customers,” he adds.
While there are more female readers in the age group of 45-60, there has been a steady increase in the number of male readers above 60 at Ernakulam Public Library.
The library has come up with summer camps to attract school students this vacation too. “Students, who are otherwise busy with projects and assignments, get time to read only during vacation. Libraries have become a fun hangout place not just for kids, but also for parents. We have been offering summer camps regularly for the past few years, giving an opportunity for children to attend classes and talks by eminent writers, film directors and social activists. This year, a summer camp for high school and higher secondary students will be conducted in May,” adds Priya K Peter.
Demand for English books
Responses from libraries and bookshops in the city reveal a preference for English books over Malayalam, especially among the youth. “Malayalam books and magazines are preferred mainly by middle-aged women. Books of Jeff Kinney, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, J K Rowling, Ravinder Singh and Chetan Bhagat are popular among children and youth,” notes Shylaja Harilal of
DC Books. While Priya says Kochiites prefer books written by new authors. "Popularity and books nominated for various literary awards also influence the reading habits," she adds.
Most of the world may have moved to e-books and kindle, but bookshops and libraries in Kochi are doing everything to counter its effect.
Blossom Book House in Kochi which has been selling books at a discounted price of 20- 80 per cent to the customers also provides buy-back offers up to 40 per cent to their customers. Most of the libraries in the city are upgrading themselves with computerized software and technology. Ernakulam Public Library is the first library in India to introduce a fully equipped RFID system, enabling easy access to books.
Kindle catches up
The sales of Kindle in India has increased tremendously in the last year owing to its convenience, accessibility and lower price over buying books.
Deepa Thomas, a post-graduate student in English Literature remarks: "I never thought I would prefer Kindle over books, when I first bought it. But I’ve been won over. I’m a brat when it comes to convenience. It is not the conventional argument of being able to carry a ton of books in a pouch that got me hooked, but the little things like font size preference and word meaning suggestions. But if you ask me, whether Kindle will replace books, I think it isn’t likely in the near future- fresh book smell is a scent no technology can replace”.
Age Group Favourite Authors/Books
6 to 14 - Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Children's Magazines
14 to 25 - J K Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Chetan Bhagat, Durjoy Dutta, Amish Tripathi, Paulo Coelho, Dan Brown, Khaled Hosseini
26 to 45 - Sarah Joseph, Arundhathi Roy, K R Meera, Benyamin, Shashi Tharoor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Shiv Khera, Sports and Lifestyle Magazines, Motivational Books
45 and above- Classics, Political Writings, Autobiographies, Women's Magazines, Spiritual and Devotional Books