Books sale sees encouraging trend despite Covid-19 – Newspaper

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A YOUNG bibliophile sifts through a Peshawar bookstore. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Compared to last year, the outgoing year witnessed an encouraging trend of publication of books on different topics including sociology, climate change, environment, psychology, postmodernism, medical, engineering and emerging literary genres.

Despite Covid-19, publication of Pashto books surged to around 20,000 compared to last year’s 15,000 brought out by publishers, institutions and individuals in Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, Afghanistan. Pashto academies in Mansehra, Peshawar and Quetta contributed to Pashto books’ publication mostly on research, linguistics, criticism and literary topics.

According to experts, trend of reading resistance literature whether prose, fiction or poetry attracted Pakhtun youth, study circles through social media brought together bibliophiles towards Pakhtun cultural identity and strengthening peace narrative and also to counter the stigma of militancy and extremism.

Outgoing year witnesses rise in publication of Pashto books on variety of subjects

“Readers generally love to read fiction, political and history books. A surprising trend was publication of books in number exceeding 1,000 and touching 50, 000 because of its sale on large scale. Also digital copies are available on social media but still print version is favourite among bibliophiles,” said Elman Khan, a lover of books.

According to publishers in Peshawar, Covid-19 lockdown adversely affected the sale of only textbooks, especially those included in the syllabi of the educational institutions at different levels.

They said that publication and sale of books outside the ambit of education remained quite encouraging despite deep slump in the market. Books covering classical Pashto literature, history, feminism and politics found market in the Middle Eastern and European countries, they added.

Yar Akbar Shinwari, who owns a Pashto bookstore on University Road, told this scribe that he had shipped Pashto books to UAE, UK, the US, Canada, Germany, France, Austria Belgium and Sweden where Pakhtun immigrants lived.

He said that most often Pakhtun youth reverted to print version after social media as digital version of books didn’t arouse the kind of interest and sense of ownership that impacted a thinking mind.

“Students walk up to my bookstore to purchase print copies of the books they have read in pdf because they want to swell up their personal libraries and keeping bedpost libraries is still a trend with most readers,” he said.

Anwar Khan Lala, the octogenarian bookstore keeper at University of Peshawar, said that readership of Pashto books on literary criticism, research methodologies, prose, fiction along with folklore and classical literature had scaled up.

Prof Abaseen Yousafzai said that literary organisations and literati continued their creative and research activities through online contacts in the wake of Covid-19 and it gave Pashto writers and critics a good opportunity to share their works and even the year gone by enabled the woman poets and writers to bring out their books.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2020

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