People not going to books? Bring books to them

Editor Warren Fernandez brings up a very critical issue: How to scale up the reading habit of Singaporeans ("Why read? For the sheer joy of it"; May 29).

Reading has been relegated to the back seat by the onslaught of social media and smartphones. People get ready entertainment out of these.

With books, on the other hand, it takes time to digest their contents, and the subject matter has to match the psyche of the reader.

It is good to hear that some initiatives are already in place to make reading a favourite pastime and hobby. But just persuading people to read may not work well.

There are some measures which worked in my home town of Kolkata, which is honoured as an "intellectual capital" of India. Perhaps they could work here too.

It is important to make books reach the people. Mini versions of the National Library could be extended to more places in Singapore.

It is sad that some private bookshops had to close recently. The proliferation of bookshops and mini libraries can only boost the reading habit.

Just like infrastructure, bookshops are to be run initially by government agencies, as they may not be profitable until the love for books catches up.

Other measures such as workshops, collaborative book reading, writing initiatives, idea exchanges and debates may be organised as well.

The joy of reading cannot be discovered until one starts reading. That is the challenge.

We need a big thrust to populate everyone's home with books. Only then will people start to explore the written word, and other activities will take a back seat.

Atanu Roy