The government will work together with the book industry to publish at least 26,000 titles a year, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
The Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Information, Communication and Culture will cooperate with writers, publishers and other players in the book industry to achieve the target, he said.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said that redoubled efforts were called for from all considering that there were now only 16,000 titles. “What is important is to get as many writers as possible and, of course, publishers to come out with works that are supported and of quality,” he told reporters after opening the Kuala Lumpur International Book Festival 2011 at the Putra World Trade Centre.
He said the government agencies involved would work closely with the private sector in the book industry to “map out” the printing activity for attaining the goal.
Muhyiddin believed that the demand for books would rise because of the growing interest in reading reported over the last several years.
Several years ago, he said, Malaysians read an average of a few pages annually. Now they read two books a year. “This is an indication that we have to strive harder to make the reading culture a part of our lives. Not just reading, but reading for knowledge,” Muhyiddin said.
Earlier in his speech, he urged parents to set aside a certain amount every month to buy books and other “suitable” reading material for their children. “This will not only help to develop in children a love of reading but also contribute to building a civilization of successful people,” he said.
Muhyiddin suggested that the National Book Awards be renamed the Premier (Perdana) Book Awards and accorded the highest status.
The awards are organised by the National Book Council of Malaysia with the cooperation of associations in the industry. Muhyiddin asked the council and associations to consider organising awards for books for children.
The festival, the 30th in the annual series, themed “Books: World without Borders”, is from April 22 to May 1. About 1.5 million people are expected to visit the festival