In the age of digital technology, the habit of reading jostles hard with live streaming and aimless scrolling on social media. Surprisingly – or not – Penangites seem to prefer old-school print.
Penang’s history of publishing is a remarkable one. In 1806, when it was made a Presidency of India, the first issue of the Government Gazette – later renamed the Prince of Wales Island Gazette in 1807 – was produced in a humble printing press on Beach Street. It was the first newspaper in all of South-East Asia.1
Historian and author of Penang: The Fourth Presidency of India 1805-1830, Volume 1: Ships, Men and Mansions, Marcus Langdon, noted that the few Europeans who came with Captain Francis Light to the colony brought their materials and books with them. This gave rise to Malaya’s first public English language library, the Prince of Wales Island Library.2
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