Kashmir’s Reading Culture: Fading, Flourishing or Fluctuating?

We contacted and communicated with different stakeholders—academicians, officers, avid/ voracious readers, renowned writers/ columnists, budding writers, (school and college) students, booksellers, etc. to know their opinion and viewpoint on these questions (especially on this question: Is the Book Reading Culture in Kashmir Declining in the Age of the Internet?)

By Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray and Rehana Imtiyaz Wani

“IS the culture of book reading dying or flourishing in Kashmir?”; “Fading Reading Culture”; “Book Reading Habit on Decline among Youth”; “Dwindling book-reading culture affecting Kashmir’s young generation”; “Decline in Reading Culture”; “The changing habits of reading”; “Reading habits face challenge in internet age”; “Importance of Reading books”; “Books transport us to new worlds”; “Only way to Progress is to Read”; “Attracting youngest to reading culture”; “promotes book reading culture by encouraging establishment of domestic libraries”. These are some of the headings—either of the opinion pieces or write-ups, editorials or news items, that were published in our local daily newspapers, mostly in the last few months (and few in the last year too). However, when we tried to peep into it a bit deeper, we found that last year too, there were few write-ups and news items which highlight the same issue.

In fact, some studies have been published in journals as well on this issue; two such examples (published in 2010 and 2019) are: “Reading Habits among College Students of Kashmir across Genders” (by S. M. Shafi and Fayaz Ahmad Loan, both from University of Kashmir) published in Trends in Information Management/ TRIM (6, 2, July-Dec 2010, pp. 92-103) and “Reading Habits of College Students of Jammu & Kashmir: A Case Study of District Anantnag” (by Haamid Amin Mir, Ashfaq Ahmad Rather and Mohammad Rayees Bhat) in Library Philosophy and Practice (2019, pp. 1-12). Prof. Shafi and Dr Loan, in their study, concluded that gender is “the principal factor affecting reading habits of students as reading tastes and preferences between genders differ quite drastically” (p.101). Mir et. al., (who are working as Librarians in the J&K Education Department) in their study focused on the students of four (4) colleges of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district with the objectives to ascertain and assess their “reading habits” and (most importantly) “the role of parents, teachers and librarians in promoting the reading habits”. Their findings reveal that the “students mostly read books and other materials with an intellect of resolution and with explicit objectives” and they are mostly “assisted and motivated by their parents in promoting their reading habits”.

All these titles, whether opinion pieces, news items or research studies, have one theme in common: ‘Book Reading Culture in Kashmir’. While some question on this narrative, others are of the opinion that the general trend is that book reading culture has declined in recent years and the major reasons put forward by most of them are the use of smartphones, social media platforms and handles by youth—for they spend most of their time either on using social media (like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.) and (playing) online games.

Reading, no doubt, is a wonderful habit; it is a kind of therapy, which not only works wonders but acts as a relaxing balm to frenzied minds and distressed nerves as well. Reading is considered one of the pleasant practices and spending time with books, or making friendship with books is considered as one of the most loyal camaraderie for books never betray the reader; they stay with him in ups and downs, in delight and distress, in company and solitude. Garrison Keillor has rightly said that a “book is a gift you can open again and again”.

Reading, no doubt, increases knowledge; improves language; helps us to remain updated; increases our creative and critical thinking; imagination; clear perspective on various topics and issues; communicating one’s ideas in different ways; and in understanding the actual picture.

However, we are living in an era, which is described either as the age of internet, age of smartphones or an era of technology and electronic gadgets (like i-pads, kindle, etc.). That is to say, modern technology and the revolution it brought have impacted the functional activities of all walks of life, forcing some drastic lifestyle changes in humans everywhere in the world” (Haroon Reshi, “Is the culture of book reading dying or flourishing in Kashmir?” Kashmir Images, 13th December 2021). The ‘technological revolution’, and the changes that the world went through in the last few years (including the COVID-19 global pandemic), have reinforced many of these changes; and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is no exception to these changes and challenges. All these changes have transformed our world significantly; and one such significant change is the use of internet-driven devices (especially smartphones and digital media) which has had an impact on the (style of) book reading culture in Kashmir.

It is generally observed that people now prefer to watch visuals and read electronic mode of content than (physical) book reading. “Earlier, the book lovers would be enthused to hold a book in hand, shuffle through its pages and smell the paper and ink. Now it is a small device you scroll, no smell of ink or paper, just lifeless words” (Reshi, 2021).

The fact is that the ‘age of internet’ and the ‘era of smartphones’ as well as ‘excessive use of social media platforms/ handles’ have impacted (significantly) the book reading culture. How much helpful or harmful has this impact been? What changes has the use of the internet/ smartphones brought (especially in book reading culture)? Has book reading culture faded or flourished with the use of the internet and smartphones?

In this context, we contacted and communicated with different stakeholders—academicians, officers, avid/ voracious readers, renowned writers/ columnists, budding writers, (school and college) students, booksellers, etc. to know their opinion and viewpoint on these questions (especially on this question: Is the Book Reading Culture in Kashmir Declining in the Age of the Internet?). Interestingly, there are varied opinions on the question/ issue at hand. Some say it’s good and has helped in making accessible the books which were unavailable or inaccessible; others believe that technology has no doubt brought changes, but it has not reduced the number of avid and voracious readers in our society. While others are of the opinion that the internet and smartphones have increased the number of readers, still others offer different opinions. Below are provided all these types of opinions and are arranged thematically.

VIEWPOINT 1: Avid Readers (Reading Section) in a society are always there, but in minority. Internet and Technology has affected them but their number has not declined

The avid readers, in the opinion of many, are always present in every society; but are found in the minority. This “Reading Section”, despite different odds, keeps intact with the books, but history is witness to the fact that “Reading as an intellectual exercise … can never be a mass activity.”

Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah (scholar, author and a prominent columnist) refutes the argument that internet has brought book reading culture to a standstill and is of the opinion that “there was no great book reading culture (in Kashmir) before internet that could decline. Only insignificant percentages (among avid readers) have shifted to e-books or soft copies (PDFs) of books. The rest keep their attachment to books intact.” For him, there has been a “marked shift” in mode and style of reading, for “e-books (have) replace(d) conventional books and as such (there is) decline in the conventional mode of reading but not (in overall) reading culture” in our society.

Prof. Javaid Hassain (Assistant Professor of Urdu at GDC Sogam) also shared a similar viewpoint on this question.

For Dr Altaf Hussain Yatoo (Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and a regular bilingual columnist), “reading culture” in Kashmir has not declined but has been affected because he believes that the “‘Reading Section’ of our society, amid all odds and pressures, is always on book hunt! However, that section which is over-possessed in phubbing was never serious in reading. The case of students, in my opinion, has not changed, because students, by and large, have always been note gathers which now they find in the digital form. It is a positive sign that the number of booksellers, publishers and writers has shown no decline at all.”

Similarly, Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander (a Srinagar-based Writer-Activist and Researcher) believes that the general trend found in Kashmir is that reading as an intellect activity has remained confined to a minority only and the use of social media handles has reduced this number further though he appreciates the use of electronic gadgets for reading purpose. “Reading culture in Kashmir like other parts of the world”, for him, “is declining”. Earlier too, only a few literate people were avid readers”. For him, it is an “irony” that even “teachers and academics (in our society) have very poor reading habits” and “with the advent of social media, the attention span of people has gone down. The constant habit of remaining connected 24×7 has adversely impacted the reading habit.” However, “many readers are now opting for digital, kindle, e-books and audio-books which gives the perception about the declining culture of manual hard copy book reading”, he argues. “Reading as an intellectual exercise”, he asserts, “will continue among the minority, as history is a witness and will continue like that, and it can never be a mass activity.”

VIEWPOINT 2: Internet and Smartphones have affected the readership Qualities especially among youngsters

Syed Mustafa Ahmad (a columnist from Hajibagh, Budgam), who has himself published a few write-ups on the theme of “Decline in Book Reading Culture”, is of the opinion that the internet has affected the readers and readership qualities in the valley, especially among the young generation. Sharing his views, he said: “The book reading culture in Kashmir in the age of the internet has almost vanished. There are hardly any people who read books. The new generation has lost touch with the book reading culture—thanks to the omnipresence of the internet (especially social media)”. Book lovers are very rare these days and owing to excessive use of smartphones and social media sites/ handles, “book reading culture in Kashmir is on the verge or brink of extinction.”

Peer Jafar Akbar (a BA 6th semester student from our college, GDC Sogam), an avid reader, shares a similar viewpoint. For him, from the last decade, “technology boom has hit the reading habit in the younger generation. Students in this age of the internet prefer to spend time on mobile phones rather than reading some productive book”. For him, “Kashmir valley, which was the hub of intellectualism once, is gradually losing its charm (of reading culture and readership qualities)”. Few other students, being budding writers as well, also shared a similar viewpoint. All of them see excessive use as well as misuse (especially by spending more time on social media sites/ handles) as the main cause of the fading of book reading culture. “Book reading is of utmost importance”, says Shahid Shafi Shah (pursuing BSc from GDC Sogam and a budding writer) for they help “not only to improve the writing skills but also enable us to build a great vision”. But “haplessly the habit of book reading had been diminished in Kashmir amid various causes. The root cause is the internet because nowadays, the youth of Kashmir are indulged in myriad execrable activities like (excessive use of) social media, drugs and other awful things which later have havoc ramifications”. Another student from our college, Saqib Sarwar (an avid reader and a budding and passionate writer) also agrees with our question saying that the activity of “book reading is being ignored with the passage of time, because of quick access to the information through the internet”. Fayaz Ahmad (BA 6th semester student and a writer) also shares a similar opinion on the harmful effects of reading culture; for him, “it’s right to say that the internet (has) snatched book reading culture from us. Nowadays, every literate youth is busy with using social media and hardly anyone finds time for reading books’ ‘, and thus one finds the “reading culture on a decline”. Shayista Shaban (BSc 6th semester at GDC Sogam), shared  similar opinions. She blames the internet for the cause of decline in book reading culture, especially in the younger generation. For her, “internet has affected badly the book reading culture in Kashmir”, for everyone in his/ her “day-to-day life, depends wholly and solely on the internet”. Even for finding quick answers to their minor problems or in clarifying their basic concepts, students hardly “consult any book or discuss (with their colleagues or teachers). They consult the internet for solving their problems and in getting quick answers for their questions”. She further states that, “no doubt using the internet provides us basic information on all topics but it doesn’t increase our mental ability and intellectual power.”

It is interesting to add here that school students also view the use of the internet as the main cause of decline in book reading culture in Kashmir. Saniya Zehra Dar (a class 9th student at the Army Goodwill School, Hanjik, Shariefabad, Budgam and a writer who has published a number of write-ups) also shared a similar opinion. For her, it’s true that “the book reading culture in Kashmir is on decline in the age of the internet. Being a student, I have witnessed there is no inclination among the students towards reading books. The main topic of discussion among the students is social media. There is hardly any student who talks about books’ ‘. For her, “the internet has brought the book reading culture to its knees and reviving it needs a collective effort and some serious thinking.” Nighat Wani (a teacher from North Kashmir’s Kupwara) too agrees with this viewpoint and considers use of internet, or spending extra time on screen, as a matter of serious concern: “Obviously book reading culture is declining in Kashmir; only a handful of book readers are present in the whole valley, that too of old generations. Our younger generation is least interested in reading books, magazines, etc. because they have become attracted to screens. It is a major concern and needs to be addressed”. However, another school teacher (wishing anonymity), while sharing her viewpoint on the basis of her experiences and observations in the school, says that the diminishing book reading culture in Kashmir is because of two major reasons: (1) “books are expensive and school libraries have no updated stock of books”; and “students are not encouraged to spend their leisure time in the library”, and thus it has “become very easy and cheap to find desired content on digital platforms.”

Bilal Ahmad Sofi (a teacher and writer from Khushipora, HMT, Srinagar with a Master’s in English Literature) also shares similar opinion and agrees with the question (posed) and is of the opinion that a reader of (physical) books is disregarded and someone reading on a gadget is considered to be a ‘modern’. For him, “Teachers, as well as students, are not interested in reading books. The person who reads books now is being looked down upon, though exceptions are there. In the present times, book reading culture is (considered) a symbol of the traditional society. Modern age is all about PDFs and e-learning. So, reading books is an affront to society. In short, it is on decline”.

VIEWPOINT-3: Internet made inaccessible books accessible to a common man; Internet has made Reading prerogative of the privileged and the subaltern alike

Contrary to the opinions presented in viewpoint-2 (that ‘internet and smartphones have affected badly the readership qualities, especially among the youth’) many believe that the internet is a blessing for the readers, for many reasons. Amir Suhail Wani (a Srinagar based columnist with many newspapers, including Kashmir Observer) is optimistic and sees this change as a positive sign as far as book reading culture in Kashmir is concerned. Refuting the claim that book reading culture has faded or declined, he says: “Many people believe that the book-reading culture is ebbing, but a simple survey of Amazon book sales and the data collected from local bookshops defies this judgment. On the contrary, e-books, online journals and research papers and gadgets like palmtops and Kindle have diversified the reading culture into electronic mode. People across all age groups and from different walks continue to cherish their reading habits. There is only one ill concern that social media platforms have transformed learning into an activity of boasting and useless debating and that’s in a sense defeating the purpose of education which is ‘formation, not mere information’.”

A similar opinion is shared by a senior academician who views the existence of, and establishment of new booksellers (in the Srinagar city, like Kashmir Book Depot, Gulshan Books, Ali Mohd. and Sons, Bestseller, Password and others) as a sign and signal of the “thriving book reading culture”. For him, it is of secondary importance what and how much a reader (be it a student or a common person) reads; what is important, and interesting to note, is that people read, he remarks.

It is interesting to add here that a class 12th student (namely Obaid Wani) from Sopore shared a similar opinion. Viewing use of the internet as a helpful tool in book reading, in his opinion, “there is no decline in book reading culture”. He also believes that in some cases, “there may be (a decline), but overall there isn’t. The internet, as everyone knows, has made our lives better and easier; so is the case with the book reading culture. It takes less time nowadays to read books, due to the internet, as we easily get access to the podcasts and summaries of the books we need to read”.

Similarly, Mugees Ul Kaisar (a Philosophy pass-out from JNU, New Delhi and a regular columnist with many newspapers, including KO) is of the opinion that “internet or a smartphone can never replace or compensate the knowledge available in the (physical) books”. Agreeing with our query, he is of the opinion that “all the people I know, who are very well-read, are in their 40s or older. In comparison, the number seems to (have) decreased now in our youth because of digital revolution in past decade and a half. That is, our elders seemed to have lesser distraction. If they wanted to know about something, they had almost no other option but to buy books.” Appreciating the fact that internet has provided an easy and quick access to the information, he is not miscalculating its harmful effects: “We do not deny that internet makes huge amount of information quite accessible to wider audience, and we can learn a lot from it, but the information in the form of articles and YouTube videos are neither properly structured nor comprehensive. They may act as partial beginner introductions to things. Only books properly and comprehensively cover subjects. Moreover, classics of all sciences are always the most important, which are best accessed through books, whether hard copies or soft copies.”

In the opinion of Asif Tariq Bhat (a young Kashmiri language novelist), “Readers never die. However, in today’s rapidly developing technology environment, readers experiment with new ways to slake their hunger for reading, whether it is through documentaries or audiobooks. The content thus reaches the reader via many paths and media. It is absurd to blame the internet for this. Speaking of the culture of reading books, voracious readers cannot have this thing taken from them”.

Based on his own experiences as an avid reader and writer, Dr Shah Faisal (IAS), shared a mixed response to our query, for he highlights the harmful effects of the internet and at the same time appreciates its benefits. For him, “book reading culture has taken a hit because of internet. My personal experience has been that whenever I don’t have access to internet, I immediately return to (physical) books. And the moment, I am back online, I find myself so distracted. There is so much happening in this world. Breaking news is a part of life now. We also find it hard to read books because we are used to reading 280 character tweets. Social media makes it so difficult for us to get those quiet moments when we can pick up a book and get absorbed in it.” However, he does not overlook the positive side of use of the internet and smartphones, for it has made available “many online resources”: “PDF books, which can be read and shared without any charges, have made knowledge more accessible.” Therefore, for him, “it ultimately depends on the judicious use of the internet and social media, as we can read much more than we used to read before the age of internet.”

Echoing a similar viewpoint, Prof. Ishfaq Hussain Bhat (Assistant Professor, English at GDC Sogam), and viewing the internet as a “double-edged sword”, he is f the opinion that it has no doubt “revolutionized the world insofar as making books available/ accessible to people belonging to different walks of life, but it has badly affected reading habits”. “Digital addiction”, in his opinion, “is one of the major threats to reading habits because the users/ readers live in a constant FOMO (fear of missing out)” and it leads to “distraction”. He also is of the opinion that we should not consider the increase in the number of booksellers in Srinagar or in the whole Kashmir valley as “a yardstick” for flourishing book reading culture. At the same time, he (being a teacher) cautions that “if the trend continues, we might soon see, with some exceptions, books being used as mere decoration items.” Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Kumar (Assistant Professor, Kashmiri, GDC Sogam) also shared similar viewpoint on this question, adding that the “passion for reading has tremendously dwindled in the young generation due to various reasons—injudicious use of smartphones, mostly for entertainment purpose, being the primary one”.

Danish Bashir (a BSc 6th semester student at our college and a budding writer and good orator) is of the opinion that no doubt “internet is beneficial for us as it provides us easy access to the study material that we need as well as gives quick fix solutions to our problems” but its use “ultimately leads the user to distraction” even if a user is reading a book. In contrast to this, “reading from a physical book not only helps us in concentrating on the topic we are reading, but also in absorbing and accumulating what one reads.”

M. Azhar Ul Haq (a voracious reader who is currently pursuing PG in English at Central University of Kashmir) also views internet both as boon and ban for book publishing and reading. He says that it is true that “the IT revolution changed everything around us, including how and how much we read. I believe that the internet affected printing more than publishing and reading. Similarly, it facilitated access to quality literature produced across the world. Reading ceased to be a prerogative of the privileged: now, the subaltern can read.”

“In general, the trend of studying today is more towards the digital world and Kashmir is no exception to it, as students here prefer to read books, magazines, newspapers and literature on various topics (of their interest) on the internet”, says Mujtaba Farooq (MANUU-Hyderabad based PhD scholar and a regular Urdu columnist with local and national dailies). On the issue of diminishing reading culture, he is of the opinion that there are two main reasons; that (1) easy access and availability of the required study material (in digital format) for the students as per their need, literary taste and interest; and (2) spending a lot of time by using social media for entertainment, watching reels and short clips and playing games. These reasons, for him, “have had a significant negative impact on the study trend.” He substantiates his viewpoint from the feedback received from some reputed booksellers of Srinagar (during a conversation). He further states that “one experiences an aesthetic feeling by reading a physical book, which cannot be attained by reading a book in digital format. Thus, it is imperative to turn back to read (physical) books.”

Faiza Aijaz (who is pursuing PG in English Literature at Central University of Kashmir), as a counter-argument, raised the question (which is similar to the viewpoint highlighted by Dr M. Maroof Shah) “did Kashmir ever have a reading culture?” and answers it in negative saying that “the book reading culture never thrived in Kashmir.” She further argues that any “intellectual activity, including book reading, has largely been a vocation of the privileged section of the society” in Kashmir but the “penetration of internet to the center and hinterland alike” has resulted in a “kind of democratization of book reading.” “Kashmir, too, has begun to inculcate the habit of reading books”, she remarks.

VIEWPOINT-4: Art of Reading (a Book) not taught; Book Reading Habit not Inculcated and Encouraged at School or College Level(s) and Less Use of Library (by Students)

Notwithstanding the fact that in recent years we have come across a number of news reports of school going students publishing a book, the general trend is students are neither encouraged to read books nor are there any contents or schemes in the curriculum or pedagogy which could inculcate or refine reading habits among students. Saniya Zehra Dar (a class 9th student at AGS Shariefabad, Budgam) as quoted above, has made a confession that as a student she has not witnessed any “inclination among the students towards reading books” which she substantiates with the point that the “main topic of discussion is the social media” and “hardly any student talks about books.” This is further validated by the opinion of a teacher who has observed that “students are not encouraged to spend their leisure time in the library”.

Eyram Hamid Khan (a research scholar in the Life Sciences and a columnist who has written on this topic as well) answers our question as “simply Yes”, because he believes that “everyone is addicted to the digital world, whether they are workers, students or professionals” and thus “not only have children [students] lost interest in reading books, but even adults are also hardly seen reading books anymore.” Khan, however, considers “broken educational system” as the “root cause of this issue”, believing that “students reading habits are scarcely being instilled in them.” For him, “Books are not something fascinating for the people anymore”, and “intellectual endeavor has all but disappeared from their lives.”

Resonating a similar standpoint, Dr Zaira Ashraf Khan (Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies at GDC Pulwama and an author) is of the opinion that “the depreciation in the reading culture trend starts from schools where reading isn’t encouraged as source of intellectual development rather a means to crack exams and this trend continues all through life of a student at college too. They prefer easy to read and memorize notes/ booklets instead of a text. Reading feels more like an obligation for a student who looks for an escape.” She also believes that teaching not the “art of reading a book” is also one of the reasons having resulted in the decrease of “the percentage of book lovers.”

For Dr Bilal Ahmad Sheikh (who teaches History at GDC Sogam), one cannot deny the fact that “in the age of technology, the internet is consuming a good amount of time and people are left with too little free time to be spent on reading printed books. The people, particularly students, are largely dependent on internet for entertainment and information than books, which has decreased the importance of traditional libraries.” “Because of growing influence of internet and social media”, he opines based of his observations, “that though college libraries are rich in their collection”, these days “students rarely have a regular habit of book reading” which is “greatly affecting the quality of educated youth in colleges and universities.”

VIEWPOINT-5: What Booksellers (of Kashmir) Say on Book Reading Culture?

In January 2021, Muhammad Nadeem in the Mountain Ink published a feature story related to the book reading culture in Kashmir: “Is ‘Book Business’ Devouring Reading Culture in Public Libraries of Kashmir?” In this story, he mentioned, on the basis of inputs received from “some bibliophiles” that “Kashmir’s reading culture is both falling and fading”.

In a recent interview with Sani Yasnain of Bestseller, “one of the oldest bookstores in Srinagar” by Insha Latief Khan (“Bestseller attracts book lovers across Kashmir”, Rising Kashmir, 9th November 2022, p. 8), it was mentioned that (1) Bestseller is “a major attraction among the book lovers across Kashmir” and to “create a reading culture among the younger generation, the bookstore offers sales on the best-selling books”; (2) Sani, an avid Urdu literature reader himself, believes that “even though the youth is inclined towards books, yet the reading culture is diminishing because of the high price of the books, which students find difficult to afford”; (3) Sani believes that “Students not reading the books would not be a reason for the reading culture to die. It’s because the price of books has gone up from some years which doesn’t let students afford the book”; (4) Sani believes that “even though the gadgets have eased lives but when it comes to reading, a hard copy is still preferred over the PDFs”; for him, the “physical appearance of the book and the feel it offers is different from the one you can get from soft copies”.

Similarly, the owners of the online book store, LALCHOWK.IN, which claims to be “Kashmir’s largest and favorite online bookstore” with diverse choice of subjects and genres—including “academics, fiction, literature, competitive or Islamic books”—believe that while “we cannot specifically say that the reading culture is on decline, but generally speaking, internet has affected the common reader base in Kashmir and elsewhere”, and the reason is simple: “great share of reader base has shifted towards e-books and audiobooks nowadays as they find it more portable and less time-consuming than a physical book reading session”. For them, “the availability of news outlets (magazines/ current affairs) on the social media”, is another factor responsible for diminishing reading habits of people, as it has “put a stop on reading full time physical newspapers (and magazines)”. They further state that “the reading culture is in decline everywhere (including Kashmir) due to the fast moving and news dissemination through the internet.”

Crux of the Discussion/ BOTTOM LINE: From the opinions, viewpoints and comments of different stakeholders, it becomes evident that:

  • ‘Reading section’ or ‘avid readers’ are always present in a society, but there presence has been, and will always be, marginal; they will not be affected much by the socio-political, intellectual or technological developments and advancements taking place around the world.
  • Use of the internet as well as smartphones has proved both a boon and ban for the book reading culture in Kashmir; the internet has no doubt made books accessible and available for a common reader, but reading a book on digital.
  • Digital age has no doubt revolutionized the world but it has its harmful effects as well, and reading habits too have been affected by it (tremendously).
  • Reading culture is not instilled and inculcated among the students at school or college levels.
  • Even though the (electronic) gadgets have eased lives but when it comes to reading (a book), a hard (physical) copy is still preferred over a digital (PDF) copy; and the reading culture is declining everywhere (including Kashmir) as we are living in the ‘digital age’.

Dr Tauseef Ahmad Parray is Assistant Professor, Islamic Studies (and Convener, Debates & Seminar Committee), Govt. Degree College Sogam, (Kupwara). Feedback at [email protected]

Rehana Imtiyaz Wani is a BA 6th Semester Student at GDC Sogam. Feedback at [email protected]  

  • Acknowledgement: The authors are grateful to M. Azharul Haq (currently pursuing PG in English Literature at Central University of Kashmir) for his help and assistance in contacting few columnists and booksellers for their comments and opinions.

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