Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Death of Reading

Reading is slowly becoming a dying hobby.  I am not surprised that many bookshops around Singapore have closed down.  First it was Borders at Wheelock, followed by PageOne at Vivocity and also Harris in Great World.  Will bookshops become a thing of the past?  Why are these bookshops not profitable?

These are questions that I ask myself.  And I have come to this slow realisation that people actually might be reading a lot less than in the past.  When I refer to reading, I mean the reading of physical books.  On the other hand, they are actually now reading more through sources like the internet which has become so accessible.

People are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the latest handphone, but might not even spend that same amount on books.  They might love reading, but they simply do not see the need to buy physical books to read.  Even a person like me who quite enjoys reading seldom buy any books. Even if I do, my monthly budget or money spent on books is only around $20 to $50.  That is almost peanuts when compared to the amount I spend on food, transport, and other so-called necessities in life.  So I am not surprised in a certain way that the bookshops have closed down.  If even a book lover like myself is spending so little on books, how much money can these bookshops even make?

I also realised that time passes, I have set aside less and less time to read.  Work, the internet, distractions prevent me from reading a book in peace.  The latest book I bought still lies half read on my bedside drawer.  And yet, I have plenty of time to surf the net, eat, sleep and do so many other things.  Do I like reading?  Yes.  But I simply cannot afford the luxury of sitting down and reading like in the past.


  1. Hi,

    I don't buy physical books because of the need to store them. No matter how big your home is, it'll run out of storage space. Ebooks do not require physical storage, hence for practical reasons, I would hve to get Ebooks instead, no matter how much I prefer the feel and smell of physical books. Bo pian

  2. Hi

    For me personally I would enjoy reading physical books more than through the electronic version. However, there are many people who would frequent the bookstore but end up not buying them. Many of them would rather read on the spot than buying it to read at home.


  3. Hello FF,

    I believe people are reading more ;)

    It's just we have more choices other than physical books - Ebooks, internet, etc. Ipad and kindle are great tools! (I belong to the die-hard physical book dinosaurs)

    Even when buying physical books, we now can order on-line from "cheaper" on-line retailers; or borrow books instead from our excellent libraries.

    The recent closures of bookstores is simply free market capitalism at work.

    This makes it better for the remaining surviving bookstores - our "small" Singapore market can only support that many physical bookstores...

    Survival of the fittest.

  4. Hi,

    I am also a book lover and at times pick up one or two books when I am about to board a flight. Just like your blog, I find it hard to seat down to really read a book nowadays. So some of them are like what you have mentioned half read somewhere around the apartment.

    There is one thing that I discover about our country mate SG. Most of our country mate are not very willing to buy textbooks for their course that they are studying. Be it Poly or Uni. Most fall back to purchase second hand books from their senior and if there is a choice they rather not spend the money.

    I also give advise to my younger mates that SG books and textbooks are really cheap compare to UK, AUS and US. During my varsity days in AUS, we have to try to buy the text in SG before the start of the semester.

    Today, given the option of E-Books. I have also started to read via electronic options. But not all titles are available.

    To the rest of surfers,

    Happy Reading!

    Ah Gan

  5. Is there a difference between browsing and reading? I find that when I read stuff electronically, I am more easily distracted. I am like browsing. One moment I am reading, the next moment, I could be surfing the net, or attending to an email, etc.

    To me, nothing beats a physical book in hand. Better still if you are cut off from the rest of the world. Without internet, without handphone, etc.

    Just my thoughts.


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