Noted Urdu poet Waseem Barelvi has warned that information without knowledge was useless and that while the digitisation of Urdu literature was a positive step, it must not be seen as a replacement for the printed word.
"Information is useless without knowledge and books give knowledge while digital media provides information," Barelvi said at a seminar titled 'Future of paper books in the light of fast approaching digital books in the context of Urdu language' at the World Book Fair.
The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL) has tied up with C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) for digitising Urdu literature. C-DAC will convert 10 lakh pages of selected literature into the digital format over one year.
Shakeel Hassan Shamsi, editor of prominent Urdu daily Inquilab, believed the future of books was in digital formats.
"The next generation will certainly be more digitally oriented than the present generation and NCPUL's digitisation program is a step in the right direction," claimed Shamsi.
Basharat Ahmed, the media controller at Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, claimed that the discussion didn't focus on the real issue of the lack of Urdu usage.
"When the Urdu language itself is at risk, there is no point in discussing the threat to printed Urdu books from the rise of ebooks," he claimed.
"The books will always remain an important tool. The change from print to digital formats is just a change in the medium," Ahmed added.
Asad Raza, editor of Urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara, agreed that the digital format was just another medium for books, but claimed that the discussion was relevant only in the metropolitan areas, since most of the rural areas didn't have access to the latest technology required for the digital format.