Called a "flagship project" - more like flagging-stone. Or is it flogging?
What am I raving about, you ask? Well, a UAE-based software company has "unveiled" a new mobile book-reading application. They called it Rufoof. In the words of its developer:
- it is one of the prominent Arabic apps on the app store, is an amazing reading experience for Arabic Content (I read Arabic on Kindle, what's so amazing?)
- Users of Rufoof can view a wide range of book titles in different categories and download a sample to have the content available even when the device is offline. Another feature of the application is reading through bookmarked pages, search and change the font size as well as colour of the shelves. This represents a big advancement in the world of reading from an iPhone, Ipad or other smart phone devices. (DUH? Ditto Kindle, Sony, iPad, etc. etc..)
- is a revolutionary bookstore application that targets the Arab audience with more than 4,500 books covering various sectors (OMG. I have this much and more ebooks alone. Must be a drought in publishing).
Something is telling me that they will be selling it oveseas to the diaspora. Only a few days ago, a blogger I respect posted a Yahoo Maktoob research on reading in the Arab World. She says that "the survey polled 3,503 online folks, which means that it should definitely be taken with several grains of salt. Internet penetration in the Arab world does not go beyond 35%, and the fact that the poll takers are online already says a lot about them." And what were the results? A quarter of people polled hardly ever or never read books for personal enjoyment. Roba (the blogger from Jordan) blames lack of pulp fiction as a reason for turning off young readers. Would I rather they didn't have intellectual junk food? Of course, yes.
So will reading off the electronic shelf be any more enticing? Is Edward Said or Nawal Saadawi more palatable in e-ink than on paper? You never know. Research is beginning to show that reading online makes one more shallow and destroys the ability to think deeply. What it does to heads that were empty in the first place, is something we need to wait and see.
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