Tahrir Book Fair Premiere, critical weekend for publishing sector

Marwa Mohie El-Din, Friday 1 Apr 2011

The Tahrir Book Fair, open until 3 April, opens today with disappointing turnout, despite being the best opportunity for publishers and booksellers this year

The cancellation of the Cairo International Book Fair wreaked havoc on many a publisher’s yearly sales, not to mention was a disappointment for the many intellectuals who wait for this annual event. In response, the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) publishing house has organised the Tahrir Book Fair to create a new outlet for publishers, authors and book lovers.

The Tahrir Book Fair premiere was led by Egyptian Minister of Culture Emad Abou-Ghazy today at 10:00am. The fair will be held from 31 March - 3 April, 2011, 10:00am to 06:00pm on the AUC campus in Tahrir Square.

Egyptian and Arab publishing houses have their own sections, including well-known publishers, such as Egyptian-Lebanese publishing house, Merit, Madbouli and Sour.

El-Azbakeya also has a stand selling used and antique books.

Thousands of books abound in both Arabic and English languages, many of which are politically-themed, including books on revolutions around the world, those that predicted the Egyptian revolution and some that were banned from circulation or publication.

Despite AUC’s efforts to publicise and organise this book fair the number of visitors were far below expected, which impacted sales.

Many of the owners of publishing houses complained about the lack of publicity for the book fair, the time constraints and the high costs. For example, at the Cairo International Book fair the publisher would lease 12 metres for a period of two weeks at a price of 4 thousand LE, as compared to AUC, where ​​1.5 metres costs 3 thousand LE for a mere three days.

However, the owners of the publishing houses do see this book fair as an opportunity to compensate the loss they incurred due to the cancellation of the Cairo International Book Fair. Sales are reasonable enough to cover their costs and they hope that in these three days they can turn a profit.

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