Suara Keheningan | RP. Inosensius Ino, O.Carm
The perspective predicted to cause the closure of bookstores not only demands the attention of the people of Indonesia but also necessitates scrutiny by the government and religious institutions that play a role in maintaining and promoting spiritual life in this era.
News about the demise of bookstores is prevalent, not only in Indonesia but also in Europe. The phenomenon of bookstores closing raises questions about the reasons behind these closures, despite their importance to readers. The changing times are undoubtedly linked to other critical queries.
In this case, the question arises: why are so many bookstores closing at this time? This paper aims to shed light on several perspectives predicted to be the underlying causes.
1. The message of secularization is more intriguing than religiosity
I came across this thesis during my visit to the Mainz Cathedral church bookstore, located right next to the cathedral itself. Interestingly, in terms of its layout, it is strategically positioned in the heart of the city.
The Dom Buchhandlung, also known as Dom bookstore, is situated adjacent to the weekend market, which operates from Friday to Saturday afternoon.
If the layout alone fails to attract attention, then what exactly is causing the closure of the bookstore? On several occasions, I attempted to take a closer look at what the bookstore had to offer.
I discovered that approximately 80% of the books had religious themes, while the remaining 20% comprised books on history, philosophy, biography, and language.
Bookstores that predominantly offer religious books do not appear to captivate modern readers with open, moderate, and progressive thinking.
Life today is shaped not only by religious insights but also by a dynamic blend of secular perspectives.
With this notion in mind, the concept of a bookstore featuring only one section has come to an end. The secular world is not solely interested in religious books but also in literature and books that ignite free human imagination.
2. Readers of Generations Y and Z are familiar with digitization
The issue of bookstore closures is closely related to the reading preferences of different generations and can also be influenced by the reading habits specific to each country. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 (currently 59-77 years old); Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979 (currently 44-48 years old); Millennials or Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1994 (currently 29-43 years old); and Generation Z, spanning from 1995 to 2010 (currently 13-28 years old).
Analyzing the age range of each generation can provide insights into the differences in their enthusiasm for reading books. However, it is important to note that reading preferences can vary significantly across countries. For instance, in the German context, the order of interest in books differs from the reality in Indonesia.
Readers between the ages of 59 and 77, and even older, are more inclined to cherish physical books over digital ones. Regarding the age group of 44-48 years, it is challenging to discern their exact priorities. However, considering their college days, they tend to prefer reading books in libraries and bookstores rather than online.
On the other hand, the tastes of those aged 29-43 years are quite distinct, as Generation Y is part of the generation seeking speed and convenience. A professor friend of mine, who teaches at several universities in Germany, Rome, and Switzerland, once mentioned encountering the phenomenon where students prefer using website links as references in their academic writing instead of relying on books.
This indicates that Generation Y is no longer as interested in reading books in bookstores or libraries, as they often rely on gadgets with online reading capabilities.
Lastly, nearly all of Generation Z shows reluctance to carry physical books while on the move. They enjoy reading but prefer digital formats. During my various trips from Mainz to Frankfurt, I observed that children aged 13 to college students aged up to 28 were more frequently seen holding smartphones rather than carrying books.
They only engage in reading books when necessary, such as textbooks for studying or books required by their school.
3. How Generations X, Y, and Z Read
Scientific studies conducted by Katharina Kubish Press and IUBH International University reveal the following facts: Generation X: Approximately 80% engage in daily reading using various media such as books, magazines, and e-books. Generation Y: Around 66% read every day using their preferred media, namely social media, blogs, and websites. Generation Z: About 62% read every day using their preferred media, which includes social media, blogs, and websites. What are the reading preferences of Generations X, Y, and Z?
Let's explore the differences in tastes among each generation. Generations X and Z exhibit a strong inclination towards reading for relaxation and obtaining information.
On the other hand, Generation Y prioritizes fitness and beauty-related content. Lastly, Generation Z demonstrates a keen interest in science fiction, fantasy, and youth literature.
4. What is the monthly expenditure for buying books in each generation?
Generation X ranks first in monthly expenditure for buying books, spending 18.21 euros. Generation Y spends 10.25 euros per month on books, while Generation Z spends 8.93 euros per month.
Based on the aforementioned research findings, it is apparent that religious and spiritual books have lost their market and appeal across all generations. Consequently, it is unsurprising that nearly all bookstores exclusively selling religious books have closed down.
Conversely, bookstores that continue to publish works of fiction, imagination, literature, training, and scientific research are still sought after by at least Generations X, Y, and Z.
5. The Challenge of Self-Publishing
The IUBH International University of Applied Sciences, in collaboration with Books on Demand (BoD), a market and technology leader in digital book publication in Europe, conducted research on the writing and reading behaviors of various age groups. The study yielded surprising results, revealing a booming trend in independent self-publishing.
However, what is noteworthy is that only 13% of all respondents from different generations expressed an interest in publishing their work. What types of works were published?
Generations Y and Z exhibited their preferences in publishing scientific writing, journalism, factual content, novels, literature, and do-it-yourself guides. Interestingly, despite the familiarity of Generations Y and Z with digitization, the study also found a surprising result: 56% of them worry that their writing will go unread, while 47% express doubt about their work being purchased by the general readership.
Consequently, the Y and Z generations seek assistance in the writing and publishing process. As for the X, Y, and Z generations in Indonesia, it would be intriguing to research this topic.
The closure of bookstores in Indonesia and other places may be attributed to the dilemma faced by current X, Y, and Z-generation readers in publishing their writings. This dilemma aligns with their preference for reading through social media, e-books, and blogs.
Warm regards, Ino, June 4, 2023