The discussion at the General Egyptian Book Organization revealed many challenges facing the book industry and posing risk on its future
During the evening celebration of World Book Day, the discussion at the General Egyptian Book Organisation focused on the challenges facing publishing in Egypt. The solutions discussed included collaboration between public and private publishers, entering electronic publishing and tending to details of book outlook and distribution.
According to Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Egyptian Book Organisation, the industry of books and publishing rarely receives attention in the public sphere, while much improvement is needed for the industry to survive. He stated that unless publishers enter the electronic publishing business, they will remain behind the trend. Rather than a threat, he said, electronic versions can support the paper versions, such as the ability to offer photos and visual material.
Megahed argued that distribution of books remains a big challenge, given that the governmental institutions have no clue about proper methods of book distribution. Dealing with this issue, he said, would result in a significant increase in sales.
Mohamed Fathi Abdel-Hadi, from the Supreme Council for Culture, explained that there are poor relations between authors and publishers. This state of affairs has arisen in part because those publishers now prefer school books and religious books to other types of writings.
Abdel-Hadi added that publishers now go for very few prints for fear of costs in storage and printing. New writers are seen as high risk, especially as bookstores are limiting their purchases of new authors under constrained budgets and lack of knowledge of the new publications. Abdel-Hadi explained that part of this is that publishers do not receive an ISBN from the National Library, and that even some public publishers do not enact this important legal step that helps track new publications.
Meanwhile, the head of the General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, Saad Abdel-Rahman, explained that the real crisis is widespread illiteracy, and even worse than that, cultural literacy.