Physical books are more personal than e-books, say Malaysian bookworms

Plenty of options : In this filepic, a reader is seen browsing through the books available at the library.

THERE’S nothing like curling up with a good book for company.

When asked why they prefer reading physical books than e-books or other online material, several book lovers say it is simply a more personal experience.

“Books are more like companions, so I can say that most book lovers like me are normally emotionally attached to our hard copies.

“It also feels like I have ownership of the books – ‘They’re mine, I love them! My precious!’

“I love their scent, look and feel,’’ quips floral designer, Juliana Jamil-Thu, 39.

Sometimes, such books have an extra sentimental value when she receives books from friends or family, with some being handed down from an older generation.

“The books I read also represent my identity, personality, feelings and somewhat define who I am or who I want to be.

“Hence, I take really great care of my books like they’re part of me.

“E-books don’t evoke such feelings. It feels more like a digital service,” says Juliana, who started reading more avidly two years ago after she quit her office job.

She believes the reading culture here is blooming, with more people selling second-hand books, vintage publications on social media and online marketplaces.

“Some people also do book swaps, so getting hold of books are made easy and cheap,” adds Juliana, who enjoys genres like fantasy, sci-fi, romance and classic literature.

She believes many more Malaysians would want to read if they have more balanced lifestyles.

“It will take a lot of effort from the government, institutions including libraries and corporations to come up with efficient ways to promote reading to Malaysians,” she says.

Postgraduate student Anna Raj, 29, also points out that the look and feel of physical books put her in the mood to read.

“With online stuff, I find that I struggle to focus and my reading speed is slowed down,” she says.

Anna buys an average of 30 books a year, having a habit of borrowing books from friends and local libraries since young.

“Through my childhood and teenage years, I’ve enjoyed fiction, especially the fantasy genre.

“But more recently I prefer non-fiction books that are related to political studies and current affairs,” she says.

She agrees that Malaysia’s reading culture is average and we need to do more.

“In developed nations like the United Kingdom, you will find

people reading just about everywhere, especially when on public transportation,” she observes.

Anna says she does see many youths carting away boxes of books at sales but from observation, they don’t read them as often as they should.

As someone who admits buying loads of books from sales, marketing executive Mike Lam, 28, says he goes for the discounts and buys in bulk.

“Sometimes, I buy bags and bags of them until my mother complains,” he laughs.

Lam says he prefers to buy physical books to support his favourite authors including Paulo Coelho, J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin.

“I also read works from politicians and popular personalities including Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

“I like to keep track of what I read too, it feels better with a physical copy than an e-book,” he says.

Lam says reading books also offers a chance to disconnect from digital screens which are part of everyday life today.

However, some do believe that e-books and online publications have its own benefits.

IT executive Candice Wong, 34, says she reads online articles from magazine websites during her spare time to unwind.

“I can read it anywhere as long as I have my phone with me. There is also the option of viewing photos and videos online.

“But it doesn’t stop me from enjoying a good old book from time to time too,” she says.

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