Experts divided on impact of eBooks

SHARJAH: Experts at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2018 (SIBF) discussed the impact of translations on local literature and the role of social media in disseminating information on Wednesday.

The majority of the panel that included Dr Razan Mahmoud Ebrahim, professor of literature and modern criticism at the University of Petra, Jordan, Naguib Al Oufi, critic, researcher and university professor in Morocco and Jennifer Brehl, executive editor and director of editorial development at William Morrow, a HarperCollins US imprint, claimed that modern technological interventions have negatively impacted literature globally, while a minority thought that readership numbers have seen an uptake ever since books were made available in different formats.

Speaking about translations, Dr Ebrahim remarked: “Translation plays a big role in cultural export. For example, when we look at theatre, we see that a lot of contributions come from the French and German.” He also stressed on the fact that accuracy and quality are crucial to translations and the popularity of any country’s literature around the world.

Al Oufi said, “I feel everyone is in need of literature. It is a guardian of humanity and a keeper of our best secrets. This is the basis of all my comments today.” The Moroccan professor went on to say that new systems of education in many places completely isolate literature. “Students become critics of the work and don’t see the richness of the literature itself,” he added.

Brehl was more optimistic about the world today, especially when seen within the context of literature, poetry, art, because it can be shared on social media and so many other different ways. “I remember when the eBook was introduced a few years ago everyone was so concerned that people would stop reading. And in the aggregate, we have more readers than before just because there are more ways to read now and people can choose to suit their tastes and requirements. Look at audiobooks, for example. They preserving and continuing the art of storytelling. Oral tradition is one of the most treasured branches of literature.”

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