Youth no longer reads Urdu books, lament book publishers

The younger generation prefers reading English literature and takes more interest in internationally bestselling books. Books written in Urdu are read now mostly by middle-aged people and the older generations, said Adeel Haq, a publisher taking part in the National Book Festival.

Organised by the National Book Foundation (NBF), the four-day festival concluded on Monday at the Pak-China Friendship Centre.

“I have participated in expos in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad every year and during the last decade, I have observed that young people, especially students, have stopped reading books in Urdu. They know more about the books published in different countries and they ask for them as well,” he said.

Mr Haq added that he used to deal mostly in Urdu books in the past, but now knows more about books in English due to the changing demand.

He said new writers who write in Urdu now do not find fame as the older generations want to read the books written by Qudrat Ullah Shahab, Bano Qudsia, Asfaq Ahmed and other established writers.

“Most of the over 130 stalls at the festival have English books. Parents now want short stories in English for their children,” Mr Haq said.

He suggested that the government should not charge fee from stalls at book festivals because expos are held to promote book reading culture, where books are sold at discounted rates.

Another publisher, Subah Sadiq, who had come from Jhelum, said the impression that book reading is declining due to the internet is not true.

“Those who claim they do not find time to read due to the internet did not have the habit of reading before the internet as well. We have now started using social media for the promotion of books,” he said.

He added that more books are sold at expos in Lahore and Karachi, perhaps because Islamabad is a smaller city.