News 23 Aug 12

Romania Launches Digital Library For Metro Commuters

People who want to read while commuting can now download extracts from a 'digital library' in a Bucharest metro station.

Marian Chiriac

A Romanian private company on Wednesday launched the first digital library in an underground station station, with the aim of encouraging more reading among young people.

The new project will be available for free until the end of October.

The digital library contains 49 books and 10 audiobooks for downloading on tablets or on mobile phones in Romanian.

Once they are in the digital library, booklovers need only scan the QR code of the book, which is one of the library’s “shelves”, after which they will be directed to a website from where they can download part of the book.

“This is cool. I’m interested mainly in history and if I find something interesting for sure I will read it,” Madalin Antonescu, 19, said, while on Piata Victoriei subway station in downtown Bucharest.

The Digital Library's broader aim is to encourage reading generally, as most specialists are pessimistic about the future of reading in Romania.

In recent years, the number of people enjoying literature has constantly fallen.

The average number of books bought per inhabitant in Romania is just one a year, while in countries like Poland and Hungary the average is 8 to 10.

The average price of a book in Romania is of 19 lei, or around 4.4 euro.

A recent study by the research centre CURS showed that as many as 52 per cent of Romanians do not read books at all.

Another 28 per cent read only "from time to time" while only 5 per cent read "for at least an hour a day," the survey showed.

During the Communist era, Romania invested heavily in literacy campaigns and books were available in large numbers at cheap prices.

But over the past 20 years the situation has changed radically, with television and Internet replacing reading as most people's daily habit.

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