xi's moments
Home | Americas

Phys8k8 conical books thrive in digital age

王星越对吴谨言说眼线无处不在 | 8k8 con | Updated: 2024-06-21 15:49:56

Last year, many Indonesian readers were shaken by the news that 70-year-old bookstore chain Toko Gunung Agung was about to close all of its remaining shops. It felt as if it was the harbinger of death for the beloved printed book.

The reality is much less grim. Readership is in fact growing outside the boundaries of conventional book distribution, with the erosion of traditional systems giving way to an opportunity for publishers to be closer than ever to their most important stakeholder: readers.

Avid book reader Gustra Adyana, a frequent visitor of literary festivals, often brings home travel books after listening to their authors' passionate accounts of a memorable trip.

"It's more convincing when I can see the authors themselves and hear the book discussed," said Gustra, who also heads the Indonesian program of the Ubud Writers& Readers Festival.

He regularly checks video service portal TikTok, where his favorite authors share recommendations. "It's not uncommon for me to buy books on TikTok. So I don't really go to bookshops anymore."

Visits to large bookshop chains showed that significant portions of their stores have shifted to selling stationery, school supplies, musical instruments and other goods, with books occupying less space.

Publishers that rely heavily on traditional distribution chains are feeling the burn, especially since their industry has been slow to recover from the pandemic.

"Before the pandemic, our minimum print was 3,000 copies. Nowadays it's 2,000. We also published six to 10 titles per month, and now only five titles a month, maximum. It's better now (since the pandemic), but we haven't returned to our golden era," said Ditta Sekar Campaka, head of marketing communications at Noura Books.

"Books are a living thing," said Windy Ariestanty from Patjarmerah, a mobile bookshop and literary festival, and publishing house Indonesia Tera. "Accessibility isn't just about giving people access to books. It's also about books having the right to meet their readers."

Bazaars, literary festivals, book clubs and author meetups are gaining importance nationwide as a platform to promote and sell books, more so than conventional bookstores.

When Windy started the Patjarmerah literary festival in 2019, "dead stock" items formed a significant chunk of her collection.

"These 'dead stock' books used to sit in the distributor's storage. But when we sold them at Patjarmerah, people responded positively," she said. "Apparently, people who read these books are not the type of people who would go to a bookstore in a mall."

Now in its 20th edition, the Ubud Writers& Readers Festival welcomes 10,000 visitors each year, and the Makassar International Writers Festival is still going strong in its 13th year. Meanwhile, the local branch of Malaysian mega fair Big Bad Wolf Books continues to draw readers and resellers until midnight in cities such as Bandung and Balikpapan.

It is not just literature that has experienced a revitalized relationship with their readers. Art books and zines, or self-published works with limited copies, are experiencing a revival as well.

"Comparing our last three events in 2019, 2022 and 2023, there's a growth in terms of revenue, visitors and exhibitors," said Januar Rianto from Jakarta Art Book Fair.

"Also, there are more art book events these days, such as in Yogyakarta and Cirebon. Plenty of zine festivals that started years ago then went on hiatus are also back."

Online booksellers, each with its unique community, have also become an important distribution channel.

"When the pandemic hit, online booksellers were emerging. You can say it's them that saved Indonesia's publishing industry," Windy said.

Though visitor footfall at bookshops is slowing down, it is clear that people have not stopped buying and reading printed books. In fact, these days, with more options in terms of titles, genres and distribution channels, it is easier to discover books that truly hit home.

THE JAKARTA POST

Global Edition
BACK TO THE TOP
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349