LETTERS: I recently visited the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) bookstore at Menara DBP in Kuala Lumpur.
While browsing at the magazine section, I was pleasantly surprised to see a sign denoting that the latest issues of Dewan Sastera and Dewan Bahasa were complimentary copies.
Just to make sure that is the case, I took a copy and headed to the payment counter and inquired from a DBP staff member on duty about the matter.
The staff member replied in the affirmative and then kindly handed me a copy of an earlier issue of Dewan Sastera, which was given out free.
I then asked him the reason why this was so.
He replied that from next year, both titles would be available only as online editions. In other words, readers will not be able to purchase the print editions any more.
I received this piece of information with some sadness as Dewan Sastera, in particular, is regarded as a premier publication by practitioners and lovers of Malay literature.
As a student who studied Malay literature in the 1970s, I was a regular reader of this publication.
The magazine, which debuted in 1971, featured excellent short stories, poems, book reviews and literary criticisms, as well as translated works of foreign literature.
Readers were exposed to the works of budding and established writers, poets and playwrights. These included the late Datuk Usman Awang, Datuk Shahnon Ahmad and Krishen Jit, as well as Adibah Amin, Latiff Mohidin and Dr Muhammad Salleh.
It also featured articles by academicians on the local and international literary scene.
As for Dewan Bahasa, it has a longer history as it was published in 1957. It has played a major role in promoting the Malay language.
The magazine served as a useful reference material for language instructors in tertiary institutions, as well as school teachers and students.
Alas, as is the case with other publishers and media houses the world over, it appears that DBP is also facing challenges in this digital and social media age.
Dwindling sales and readership, as well as budgetary constraints must have prompted it to stop publishing the print editions of these iconic magazines.
Perhaps DBP can make an official announcement on the matter in due course.
HUSSAIN ABU BAKAR
PETALING JAYA, SELANGOR
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times