Pakistan Opinion Blog

The reasons for declining book sales in Pakistan

Entries may be a little edited for clarity or brevity. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of PakPositive.

By Salman Ahmed

In Pakistan, book reading was a hobby enjoyed by many, however, for the last ten to fifteen years book reading habits have been consistently declining due to several reasons.

I myself am a book enthusiast who got very disappointed to realize how my fellow countrymen were not taking this habit seriously. Therefore, I got curious enough to investigate the reasons behind this declining habit and wanted to see all possible solutions to increase book reading in our society.

I remember how my grandmother who grew up in Peshawar always used to remind me the importance of reading English or Urdu books and how it helps develop many important skills in communication, listening and writing.

She told me how in her teens she would get together with a group of friends on Sundays, and they would spend the whole day reading and exchanging books with each other.

She believes that the culture of reading books is declining due to many distractions of today’s day and age, however, it is a huge responsibility of parents to educate their children about the importance of reading and they should make sure their children develop this habit.

She further stressed how it has now become so hard for parents to make their children complete their homework let alone reading books as children like to spend their free time by chatting on the internet or playing games online.

This was one assumption I got to learn from my grandmother, however that wasn’t enough, therefore I decided to conduct a survey by visiting bookstores across Lahore and gathered some important feedback.

I interviewed bookstore owners on their personal insights on consumer behaviour they have been experiencing over time, and the reasons behind the change in reading habits. Although, they didn’t conduct any research to prove their statements as they relied solely on what they were experiencing. What they told me did make sense, however none of the bookstore owners gave a solution to the problem they discussed.

They complained how parents were not taking enough initiative to bring their children to bookstores, as one particular bookstore owner mentioned how once in a blue moon did he see a father bring his son or daughter to a bookstore. I asked them why were parents not taking enough initiative to tackle this problem and the main reason amongst others they gave was poor accessibility.

Bookstores in Lahore are located in areas where traffic becomes the biggest deterrent. Almost all the bookstores are located in or around mall road, and one has to think twice before going there, as parking is a huge problem let alone driving there itself. Bookstore owners do believe their current locations are affecting their sales and still they are not eager to take the financial risk and locate to a commercial property.

One bookstore owner took an initiative and opened his store in a prime location of Gulberg. He told me how on weekends huge buses full of children would come from small towns and buy books, and that made them realize how bookstores were in scarcity outside major cities as buses full of school children would come and purchase books.

They also lamented the fact that in an age of television, DVDs, computer games and numerous other forms of jazzy electronic entertainment, children had turned away from books. They believe they are focusing less on studies and other activities which would do no good in their lives.

Apart from all these reasons I came to believe that poor accessibility is a problem that can be easily fixed before we look into other solutions to revive this habit. We need bookstores to be in good locations where families can easily go without any hassle or without thinking twice about parking their car. Apart from offline bookstores there is Internet which is turning out to be a very easy and effective solution to this problem.

Online books stores such as offer free shipping with the option of cash on delivery in all over Pakistan. Such Online bookstores may be a great solution, however, let’s hope our citizens take this initiative and try to improve reading habits amongst themselves and their communities.