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Bookshops in Addis

The Fortune’s ferenji columnist, Brian Burrell this week decided to take us to Addis’s bookshops.After some comments on our weak reading culture and the time we spend chatting with each other, he talks about the proliferation of bookstores that he says are subtle and varied manifestations of globalization.Interesting observations.

Then Burriel takes a swift look at the growing modern bookshops in town.Read it here.

The conclusion,

 “Addis Abeba shows promising signs for book buying. If the lower priced shops took a little time towards organisation and if the high-end stores diversified collections to cater to all needs, there is great potential for business to thrive. The problem posited to learning institutions and those socially concerned individuals and organisations is to raise the level of literacy and interest in expanding horizons through the written word.”

A suggestion that we might make good use of.

Categories: City Journal
  1. Serawit
    February 14, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for the link.
    The writer should be commended for the article.
    Only that one of my favorite bookshop in Haya Hulet, Readers is omitted.
    It is a small but well-furnished bookstore. In fact it is the only bookshop that has collection on Ethiopian material publishes by the American Teshay Publishers.

  2. Enku
    February 14, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Isn’t it funny that with all the time we have in the world we couldn’t afford any time for reading? In the West people use every occasion of their free time to read. In our land where time is ample, hard to find a time for it.

  3. alem
    February 15, 2008 at 12:35 am

    I know what you mean Enku. It will be great if we develop the habit of reading. I look at it this way. We have ample things to do in our time. I mean our life is socially active. We spend so much time with with friends or family even when we are the most ideal we are rarely alone. While in the west life is a solitary affair. I could be wrong but I think in the west people read to fill the void in their lives too.

  4. Addis
    February 16, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Yes, Alem is right. We Ets are rarely alone and some people in the west can hardly find anyone to talk to.

    I think the perfect situation would to be some where in between. We all need to connect with other humans and benefit from reading as well.

  5. Alethia
    February 16, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Enku & Alem:

    Like you guys I’ve been wishing to see a culture that promotes reading to be part of the life of our society for a long time. There are a number of factors that work against developing a habit of reading and one of them as you guys pointed out is too much of socializing. Social life in Ethiopia makes it hard for so many to find time to do any serious reading. But that is only one reason. We also know that many of us Ethiopians have no desire to read books and know very little or nothing about the value of reading. I’ve been fighting this habitual lack of reading culture among friends for most of my life and I know how hard it’s to convince some the value of reading books. We would have been a much better society if we spent more time with books.

    Reading or literary culture has been at its highest in the west for a long time. No doubt about that. But I think we now know that that priceless culture has been recently replaced, among so many, with too much of entertainment like spending countless hours watching TV, and increasingly playing video games. Now we can easily find college students in the US who can barely construct some grammatically correct sentences and who know no books whatsoever unless required to read them at school. The reading culture in the west is no where as good as it’s been for a long time. Work among American college students and you’ll know what I’m talking about or read about this sad chapter in the life of the contemporary American society.

    The sad thing is this: we never had a good habit of reading as part of our culture. Now in this time of globalization and when so many blindly adopt whatever people in the west do, we are fast adopting the culture of spending too much time with TV and playing video games as signs of civilization in Ethiopia and before beginning to have a good reading habit we’ll be losing it soon unless we’re extremely careful. That is going to be another sad story to be told for another generation unless we’re much more careful in taking what is good and what is not good into our culture. The vast majority of Americans will more likely be practically/functionally illiterate in a few decades if what is happening continues to be the case, which does not seem to change at all at the moment.

    I hope a public discussion starts about the value of reading in our society.


  6. selam2
    February 25, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    well said Alethia. I have seen young people in Ethiopia who know all the latest films and all the TV shows and they feel they know it all. They make time. But if you ask them about books they have no clue.

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