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Vietnamese Read One Book a Year: Industry Insider

Despite the growth of Vietnam’s publishing industry, the country’s national reading rate remains low.

According to Tuoi Tre, education experts discussed the issue of Vietnam’s reading habits during a public forum held last weekend on Saigon’s book street. During the talk, Le Hoang, deputy chairman of the Vietnam Publishers Association, brought up the country’s ambivalence towards reading for pleasure.

“The reading rate amongst Vietnamese is only one book per person per year if we exclude [textbooks and reference books],” he said, according to the news outlet. Hoang also mentioned that textbooks and reference books make up 80% of the country’s current book market.

This lack of interest should pose a challenge to book vendors and publishing houses, however industry giants like Fahasa and Phuong Nam are experiencing strong growth. In fact, the two firms reported a 20% increase in book sales in the first half of 2016, reports Tuoi Tre.

For Hoang, however, the lackluster enthusiasm for reading begins with adults. Because few Vietnamese adults read for pleasure, he told the news source, children are not encouraged to do so.

Hoang continued: “Education is also to blame as the way students are taught at school is to follow what teachers tell them, so there is no need to read books after school to gain extra knowledge.”

Earlier this year, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Pham Manh Hung announced that the average Vietnamese person reads roughly four books a year, with textbooks accounting for 2.8 of those publications, reports Tuoi Tre. According to the deputy minister, this is a fifth of the reading rate in nations such as Japan, Israel and France.

Nonetheless, Tran Phuong, a representative of the online book platform Alezaa, told the audience over the weekend: “[Vietnam’s] publishing industry is growing well”. Beyond Saigon’s ever-popular book street, Hanoi also launched a book street project earlier this month, while Da Nang is working on its own plan to establish a book street in an effort to promote reading culture.

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