Vietnam's literary culture on the decline
  • | | October 11, 2011 12:54 PM

Vietnamese people are tending to spend less time reading, and more time on the internet, or using multimedia devices.

Nguyen Duy To, Director of Thuan Hoa Hue Publishing House

During a seminar held by the World Bank in Vietnam in coordination with Thua Thien - Hue Provincial Study Encouragement Society, on October 8, Nguyen Duy To, Director of Thuan Hoa Hue Publishing House, said that the high price of books has been a large factor inhibiting people from reading. He added that another factor is that too many of the books made available to Vietnamese readers are either too academic, or just "trash novels".

"When I was a student, my classmates and I ran to the library whenever we got a chance. We devoured all the books that we found interesting," To lamented.

Nguyen Huu Chau Phan, who has quite an extensive personal book collection in Hue, said that in the 1980s and 1990s, a lot more people would visit the public library on Hai Ba Trung. Now, he says, there are noticeably fewer people, especially students, who come.

In Vietnam, a writer must pay for the publication of his book. It is the publisher\'s duty to ensure the quality of literature. However, standards seem to have been lowered. Because they want returns on sales, they would rather publish low quality literature that will gain more revenue.

"More books have been published in recent years but the quality is on the decline," Phan said. "It\'s because of money. In many cases, high-quality literature lacks the funds for publication, while any writer with money can publish a mediocre book if he has the money to do so."

Hoang Duc Binh, Deputy Director of the Provincial Department of Education and Training attributed the situation to the wide development of internet. “The Internet provides young people with constantly updated information, but they lack skills that would help them use it to its full potential," he said.

According to Binh, students in many western countries students are in the habit of bringing books along with them on vacation. They enjoy spending their free time reading. He added that this is a good habit for Vietnamese students to emulate.

“We plan to hold some more seminars on this issue in order to find ways to encourage people to read,” he added.

Le Trong Binh, Director of Thua Thien Hue Provincial Library, said that the country needs to more actively foster writers in order to produce a vibrant literary culture. He added that the Government has a role to play in making sure that people, especially those in remote areas and the young, have access to books.

Nguyen Huu Phan’s library

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