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The Book as Society’s Friend.

During our student years there were times when we didn’t sleep all night long because we were so excited to get to the bookstore early in the morning and buy the latest copy of a new edition by our favorite writer. In those days, copies were limited and demand was high. Over time, however, society’s attitude toward books has drastically changed. Levon Ananayan, president of the Writers Union of Armenia, confesses that 70 percent of the population doesn’t read books anymore. Moreover, the writer-reader connection has been broken, or simply doesn’t exist. Many Armenian students can’t even name a contemporary writer. The main cause of such a tragic situation is considered to be due to our increased use of computers and the Internet, but this may not be completely true as only 6 percent of Armenia’s population owns personal computers. Furthermore, it is shown that Americans are online more than Armenians. They have not stopped reading, however. According to some statistics, three out of five U.S. citizens read books. Armenia’s National Library Director Davit Sargsyan states that Armenia lacks proper advertising about books and as a result many have simply become estranged from reading. In Yerevan, the dozens of former bookstores have been whittled down to just three or four. Books are now mainly sold in the shopping centers below street level and the tax placed on books remains high. Outside of Yerevan, many bookstores have since been converted to grocery or hardware stores. It is in our society’s best interest that all of the above mentioned issues be addressed. Otherwise, the phenomenon of literature will disappear from our collective lives forever, a great loss indeed. There is hope, though. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization deemed Yerevan the 2012 World Book Capital. Such efforts will hopefully mobilize not just the city, but also the country to place more emphasis on the importance of books and reading.

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