Books Are Here To Stay

By Harun Momanyi. Harun, 18, lives in Nairobi, Kenya. He is a college student, a science fiction writer and works with Digital Divide Data. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

The world is evolving really fast in various aspects. Radical trends in technology, culture, fashion, transport, civilization, modes of communication-just to mention a few-are very incredible. All the same, they are worth endorsing and appreciating.

I was reading the best selling novel ‘The Digital Dead’ in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago. Although I was reading late, my mind just couldn’t help it but bow with awe at the otherworldly science fiction concepts that Bruce Balfour, a genius writer, delved into. Basically he talked about how ‘some people would die to live forever’. They would implant computer chips in their napes and when they die electronic copies of their personalities would be able to live in a computer-simulated world.

My writer friend also wrote a short story that won a continental award on how people shall be selling memories (he called them mem-bits) of the present in the future. I found it funny and a challenging thought at the same time as the trends in business are not that understandable.

That was extreme fiction, though. But it could be real with this wonderful track of trendy happenings we are on. Online archives, portals and websites are probably cenotaphs of traditional media and information outsourcing methods. Publication houses are investing heavily in technology to reach their audiences. U.K Ether books which deals with mobile publishing is one of them. Its global platform, accessible on Mac and android devices, hosts publications in the form of short stories known as ‘quick reads’ by bestselling authors like Hilary Mantel, Lionel Shriver, Sir. Paul McCartney, Emmy Award Winning Michael Cogdill and other thousands of contributing authors with a variety of genres.

Books and other content such as MP3 files are examples of digitized ‘artifacts’ for ease of access and for the future generations’ preservation. Digital writers like Andy Campbell are championing digital readership. Research reports from the Time Warner Research Program show that digital communications are indispensable in people’s lives since they are a part of educational processes at schools, work places and for communities at large.

Bournemouth University’s ‘The Media School’ encourages story telling that uses short stories, images, film or animation that has effective interactive elements that enables writer-audience communication. What the traditional media cannot do.

I work for Digital Divide Data, an award winning I.T/BPO Company –the most recent being the 3S People’s Choice Awards run by the Global Sourcing Council– that serves clients such Boeing, Reader’s Digest, Siemens and The Rockefeller Foundation. It offers eBook conversion services such as support across devices such as iPads, Kindle and Nook and enhanced eBooks, both audio and video. It recently partnered with Kwani Trust, a leading African Publisher based in Nairobi to launch the Africa Online eBook store called ‘eKitabu’, from which readers can get eBooks at fair prices. The titles include Stieg Larsson’s ‘The girl with a dragon tattoo’, ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins, ‘Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever, My Story’ by pop star Justin Bieber, ‘JLS: Our Story So Far’ by Dean Freeman and ‘Steve Jobs’ by Nick Hunter. These are some of the amazing titles to crave for.

Digital Divide Data also helps in digitization and preservation of handwritten records dating back to the 18th Century. Such records include passports, birth certificates, burial cards and marriage certificates. With this trend, the traditional paper of keeping records may be phased out. Thus people are likely to cease owning books.

Google came up with a ‘cultural institute’ that plays a crucial role in educating the globe with a visual approach. People will now use technology to look at the past. The content in form of digital collections breaks geographical restrictions of access and is available in several languages, that is why Nelson Mandela’s quote, ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes into his head. If you talk to a man in his language that, goes into his heart.’ easily applies here.

The project developed 42 exhibitions for the archive and people can search for six million photographs, documents, texts and films. Among the 17 libraries and museums that Google worked with is the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum located in Poland, The Yad Vashem World Center for Holocaust Research in Israel, as well as The Israel Museum in digitizing of some of the oldest Biblical scrolls, including ‘The Great Isaiah Scroll’.

Varsities such as Stanford University are working on digital archiving for their websites using available and donated content from individuals to ensure that the collections are rich. Hunters will no longer carry huge maps, thanks to the new age devices like Smartphones with navigational tools. Navigation in the deep sea is now facilitated by the use of satellite co-ordinates.

Cash Money Content, a publishing company owned by Slim and Birdman Williams of Cash Money Records is publishing heavy weight authors like public figure Evelyn Lozada, Wahida Clark and married couple writers Ashley & JaQuavis. It publishes influential voices in urban fiction as well as changing books on money, motivation, health and success and memoirs by some of the biggest stars in HipHop. These eBooks target the audience from both an entertaining and a serious perspective. Fashion magazines and newspapers are also taking the trend, although the traditional reading methods are bound to be intact.

Although people prefer the easiest and a more enjoyable way to get reading, there will still be the nostalgic urge to flip through the coffee-stained pages of Post-Apocalyptic ‘The Road’ by Cormarc McCarthy while on a road trip after watching the film at home. The Hay Festival is an annual global event across cities in Kenya, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Turkey and Bangladesh. It seeks to cultivate the reading culture of people across the world. With partnership with the British Council, Arts Council England, Amnesty International, Story Moja Africa, Commonwealth Writers, The Telegraph, BBC Radio 3, Oxfam, Google, Cardiff University, Wicked Young Writers’ Award and myriads others, the festival seeks to get the most people possible reading in a single location through the various cities it is held in, in attempt to set a record of the most people reading simultaneously in a single location. The locations include Dhaka, Kolkata, Budapest, Beirut, Toronto, Belfast and several others. Perhaps this is one of the biggest global events in the world with a general theme ‘a book in every hand’ and I’m glad to be part of it as a contributing youth author.

All the same books are here to stay as there will always be the need to get a colorful copy of your favorite novel in your hands so that whenever you get bored-or your reading device is low on battery, the juicy flow of wild imaginations and flowery fantasies in your mind is not cut.

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