A Step Towards a Cultured Society

iRead Encourages Arab Youth to Read More
Sherine Rashed, the founder of the iRead initiative. Credit: iRead’s official Facebook account.
Ahmed Mourad, board member of the iRead initiative. Credit: iRead’s official Facebook account.
Students posing for a photo in an iRead booth at a Cairo university. Credit: iRead’s official Facebook account.

Five years ago, writer Sherine Rashed was pushed to launch the iRead initiative as a result of her rejection of Egyptians’ being labeled as a third world people.

"When I was a student at the Faculty of Economy and Political Sciences, I was very angry with this description, to the extent that I thought to live abroad," said Sherine Rashed. 

"But staying in another country would make me feel alienated, and instead of the idea of ​​escaping, I wondered why we are a people of a third world, and I began to observe and compare between us and other peoples," Rashed added to Majalla. 

“The biggest difference between us and people of different countries is the reading.”

In every country Rashed went to, she found reading is a habit firmly established among its citizens. "Wherever they go, they have a book in their hands. As for us, wherever we go, we have mobile phones in our hands," Rashed explained. 

So, she conceived the idea of encouraging people to read through mobile phones. 

In 2014, I created a Facebook page called “Quote factory,” in which I published excerpts from the books and novels I read, with the aim of attracting followers to view the book from which the phrase is quoted.

The iRead initiative aims at encouraging the Arab youth of the world to read more and acquire the habit of reading,  especially since recent surveys indicate a decline in reading rates among youth in light of the digital media revolution.  Young people usually flock to browsing social networking sites.

The initiative also aims to build a bridge among the readers in the Arab world. 

NEW DIRECTION

This initiative is the first collaboration between Victory Link, a leading digital marketing company, and the writer Sherine Rashed. 

iRead took a new direction of promotion that goes in line with the ideas and trends of youth by recording short video clips of artists and public figures in literature.

Through these short clips the public figures talk about the impact of reading in shaping their personalities and changing their lives.  They also nominate books for youth to help them love reading. 

"The idea of ​​iRead is to target youth through their access to social networking sites in order to talk to them in the language they understand to show them benefits of reading," said Inji El Saban, the CEO of Victory Link company.

"We aim to promote the culture of reading while at the same time mitigating the negative effects of immersing youth in the world of Internet," El Saban added to Majalla. 

iRead includes a set of partnerships with major publishing houses and libraries, in addition to organizing a range of activities in schools and universities in Egypt and the Arab world. 

The initiative provides digital content through various social media platforms, in addition to organizing interactive activities to encourage reading and strengthening interaction among the target group.

"We seek to build bridges of communication between readers and writers, to discover creative talents and publish their literary works,” said Rashed. 

The continuation of book counterfeiting operations threatens to bring the whole industry to a halt, as a writer will not produce new works as long as he does not get paid for his effort, and publishing houses will not publish new works because they do not recoup the costs spent on printing, copyright, and other publishing requirements, according to Rashed.

"The most difficult thing is that we will not find a new generation of writers, as the writer will be sure that his creativity is destined to be stolen," Rashed added. 

SOLUTIONS

Finding radical solutions quickly to confront this crime is necessary in order to apprehend counterfeiters and confiscate their tools.

"We are launching continuous campaigns to educate readers about the dangers of buying counterfeit copies, especially since these forgers deceive them with poor printing, incomplete pages, and a price higher than the original price," Rashed added. 

iRead launched a number of social media campaigns, including an awareness video entitled “Buy the Original,” prepared by the initiative’s team, in which it gave a presentation of the danger of buying a counterfeit book, based on documented statistics and information. 

"I hope to reach every Arab person, to live in a society that reads, and for reading to become the forefront of the development train of the Arab people, so that we can compete with other peoples of the world, on all levels - artistic, scientific and others," Rashed concluded.


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