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Book lovers turn a new page online

Digital media driving high readership aided by easy access to free content

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: With the growing presence of online media, more and more people in the capital are switching to online content.

Accessibility and convenience are the two major factors attracting more readers towards online media but that doesn’t mean that print is dead. The fact is that digital media are maturing and driving increased consumer demand for everything from online books and magazines to online newspapers.

“Print will always have a significant place,” a university professor in the capital told Gulf News.

Speaking to Gulf News, even university directors said they believed that news content available free and easily online had encouraged people to read from devices such as, iPhone, iPad and Kindle without having to bear the cost or hassle of subscribing to and paying for a recent book or a published newspaper.

“Abu Dhabi University possesses nearly 140,000 books of which 120,000 are in an electronic format. Students borrow almost 5,000 books within the academic year; however, a survey conducted by the university library administration showed that more than 96 per cent of students prefer to read eBooks and online journals due to their convenience and accessibility,” a library director at Abu Dhabi University said.

Mustafa Abdul Wahid, 42, pointed out that having electronic versions of academic books will assist university students and help them study in the comfort of their homes using convenient reading devices, rather than physically visiting the library during set working hours.

Noor Amer, a 22-year-old fresh graduate told Gulf News that she too had switched from print media to online media. “Honestly, I was a traditional reader who used to read things on paper and I have always said no electronic device can ever replace a book for me, but then I purchased a Kindle [an electronic book that allows one to purchase, download or read books page by page] and I was dazzled by how easy it is to use.”

“As for news, I like the fact that it is always at my finger tips and it is constantly updated when it is online,” she added.

Noor pointed out that she gets most of the news on her iPhone with a lot of newspapers that she has subscribed to keeping her posted.

“Additionally, with Twitter and social media in general, news has never been easier. However, every once in a while I like to pick up a newspaper just to feel a bit old school, but this rarely happens. I definitely look for electronic versions because they are much easier to read, so much quicker to receive, they are updated really fast, and also as a way to save the trees,” she said.

On the flip side, a 50- year- old consultant anaesthetist, said he prefers buying and holding a book that he can hold in his hands and read without depending on a device that is powered by electricity.

“Despite unaffordable book prices that have tripled recently, I still like to own my favourite books, I can take them with me anywhere, regardless of laptops and other high-tech devices,” Sami Abdul Rahim said.

The diehard traditional readers, though, still have to have their favourite publications each morning along with their cup of tea or coffee. For them it is a morning ritual which they can not dispense with.

“I can afford books and their shipping costs. Reading traditional books is more comfortable for the eyes. There are many high-tech devices that I can use to read books online such as, Kindle. However, I can’t manage reading from it and I would not think of purchasing it as well,” Fadia Tayfour, 20-year-old, a student said.