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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reading in the 21st century

Reading never goes out of style, even in the age of technology.

In the August 1894 issue of Scribner’s magazine, an article by Octave Uzanne, predicted “The End of Books,” proposing that in the 20th century, the printed page will be replaced by “storyographs,” patented cylinders containing recordings of books. Uzanne imagines today’s libraries transformed into “phonographotecks” or “phonostereoteks,” repositories for the “storyographs.” He also imagined portable players that he called “pocket phono-opera-graphs.”

While Uzanne’s predictions almost accurately cover audiobooks, ebooks, mp3 players, and personal ebook readers, he was wrong on one count: the introduction of these technologies did not herald the end of books, but rather gives the 21st century person new ways to enjoy the printed page, and enhanced the reading experience.

The Manila International Book Fair lists the top 10 reading technologies, proving just how relevant reading still is in the 21st century.

As the Manila International Book Fair, the paramount event of the Philippine book industry, marks its 30th anniversary this year on Sept 16-20 at the SMX Convention Center, it once again welcomes book lovers to celebrate it celebrates the written word in all its forms.
  1. E-books and E-book readers – E-books are digital media that are equivalent to the conventional printed book, usually read on e-book readers. These are devices that specifically function to display books, equipped with an electronic ink display that mimics the appearance of a printed page. As an added advantage, e-book readers can store hundreds of titles, are portable, are readable even in bright sunlight or in a dark room, and have a long battery life. Other gadgets, such as personal computers, laptops, PDAs and cell phones, can also be used to read e-books but do not have the book-like display of e-book reader devices.
  2. Audio books – Audio books are recordings of the spoken word, often (but not always) the recording of a conventional printed book. While they first appeared in cassettes and CDs, audiobooks are more popularly available today in digital formats. Some audio books are abridged while some carry the complete text; some are straight narrations, others are dramatized or narrated by celebrity readers. Audiobooks are convenient for multi-taskers, who wish to enjoy books while driving, working out, or doing housework, and also open up more reading opportunities for slow readers, or the visually-impaired.
  3. Social Networking sites – Book lovers can reach out to fellow book lovers via social networking sites that allow members to create virtual book shelves, post reviews, and create book discussions. Examples of such sites are (currently housing the biggest online community of Filipino book lovers, Flips Flipping Pages),,, and
  4. Online Book Trading – Swapping books with other readers across the globe can be done through book tradings sites. Some sites, such as, operate on a points system, others, like and, operate on request queues. Other sites, like involves randomly leaving books in public areas for other people to find.
  5. Reading implements – These are mechanical implements that aid the reading of the conventional printed book. Book lights are personal lamps that can be slipped inside or clipped on to books to illuminate reading in the dark. Some book light varieties consist of a thin sheet of acrylic lit up by LED lights so that the whole page is illuminated by white light (as opposed to a portion of the book) and eliminates shadows cast by lamps. Book stands or book holders are devices designed to free hands from the weight of the book while reading, especially for heavy books, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, and bibles. There are also thumb rings that allow reading a book with one hand, and book totes that protect the book and mark the page where the reader left off.
  6. On-demand Publishing – It is always difficult to get publishers to look at new manuscripts. Limited financial resources and high capital requirements mean greater selectivity by publishers, resulting in fewer new authors every year. The alternative route left for authors is self-publishing, which is an arduous task for any new author. But with the advent of new printing technology, anyone can be capable of printing their own book, with print runs as small as 50 copies or as big as 1000 copies, in a matter of minutes and at feasible costs. In the Philippines, this option is offered by Central Books Publish on Demand Service, offering packages includes the registration for copyright and ISBN, guidance for cover design and layout, full proofs of the book, and even marketing material, such as book posters. Central Books also offers the Picture Books service, which layout a collection of digital photos using a template-based system, and come up with a personalized book of memories.
  7. E-learning – With the pervasiveness of technology in everyday life, academic istitutions have realized the need to maximize the benefits of technological advancement. In 2004, the Department of Education recognized e-learning as an effective solution to the downgrading quality of Philippine education by issuing a policy directing the incorporation of information communications technology (ICT) into school curricula.
In response, Diwa Learning Systems, Inc., established iDIWA, an e-learning group designed to take the initiative in spearheading the integration of information technology in its core business: education

or academic publishing, and came up with GENYO (pronounced as jen-yo), a fully integrated e-learning program that has multimedia content for five key learning areas: Science, Math, English and Araling Panlipunan.

GENYO comes with an authoring tool that allows teachers to customize pages, a teacher training program that helps them become effective educators, access to an online learning portal (GENYO Online at ICT strategic management services, network consulting, and technical support.

Central Books and Diwa Learning Systems are exhibitors at the Manila International Book Fair.

As the MIBF celebrates its pearl anniversary, it once again unites bibliophiles and major players in the publishing industry in its continuing efforts to promote books and reading, with the largest and most varied collection of titles that will surely inspire the avid reader.

Co-located at the MIBF is Edu.Shop, a trade fair for school materials, supplies, equipment, and facilities.

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