Director of the Department of Publishing, Printing and Distributing Nguyễn Nguyên says that much work still needs to be done to promote a reading culture in the country. — Photo tuoitre.vn
HCM CITY — The increase in the number of published books cannot be equated with the growth of the local reading culture, experts said at a recent meeting held by the Việt Nam Publishing Association with several publishers and book companies in Hà Nội.
The publishing industry has constantly grown, with Việt Nam ranking first in Southeast Asia in the number of titles published in a year. But the reading culture has not flourished, according to a report in Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.
Nguyễn Nguyên, director of the Department of Publishing, Printing and Distributing under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said that three-quarters of former ministers and the deputy ministers of the ministry with whom he recently spoke agreed that the reading culture has gone downhill.
Last year, the publishing industry had 440 million copies of books and 37,100 titles introduced. This figure was equal to 4.6 books per person per year.
Compared to 2014, publishing revenue increased by 36 per cent, while the number of copies of books published rose by 16 per cent and the number of titles published went up by 30 per cent.
However, of 440 million copies of books introduced in 2019, up to 300 million copies, accounting for 84.5 per cent, were textbooks and teaching materials.
Only 140 million copies were about "self-education", which was equivalent to 1.4 books per person per year.
This has created a conflict in which the reading culture is neglected, while the number of books in the market continues to increase, according to Nguyên.
“Valuable books are few, while 'useless' books are countless,” he added.
"Books with mistakes can be fixed, but useless books cannot be. We are currently chasing after quantity over quality, with 37,000 titles per year, ranking number one in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, with a population of more than 200 million, only has 30,000 titles, while Thailand has 14,000 titles and Malaysia with 19,000."
"Considering that their people earn three to four times more than a Vietnamese worker, they have obviously chosen to 'dig deep' in the content of their book titles, while we are stressing the importance of quantity,” Nguyên said.
He noted that even though current reading statistics show positive signs, it does not mean that locals have truly embraced a reading culture.
Much work still needs to be done to develop this culture, he added.
Former Minister of Culture and Information Lê Doãn Hợp has pointed out that the number of "useless books" is not less than 70 per cent of the total books in the market. During his five years as a minister, Hợp said that he was offered “three tonnes of books”, but the number of valuable ones was very limited. — VNS