• Cairo

  • Friday, February 2, 2024 at 5:49:31 AM
    Last Update : Friday, February 2, 2024 at 6:16 AM

CIBF Sustains Momentum Despite Book Price Hike

(AWP) - Egyptian publishers say the Cairo International Book Fair (CIBF), which started at the end of last week, has not lost its momentum, despite the increase in book prices due to the declining value of the Egyptian pound against the U.S. dollar.

According to official statistics, the 55th edition of the CIBF, which will run until February 6 at the Egypt International Exhibition Center, received 2.4 million visitors during its first week.

Osama Gamal, who has visited the book fair since he was a student, said he will be “more cautious,” with his purchases, because the prices had soared beyond his financial abilities.

Wassim Hany, another visitor of Egypt’s premier cultural event, smiled as he spoke about the prices, which he described as “high,” adding that there were some discounts, but that the prices were still not good this year.

Ahmed Farouq, executive director of a renowned Egyptian publishing house, said the CIBF is always marked by floods of visitors regardless of the prices, adding that his institution has offered discounts to encourage people to buy.

“The prices are high, like everything in Egypt, but as much as we could, we set affordable prices and offered discounts suitable to the fair. Thanks to the high number of visitors, the purchases were large. We tried to offer reasonable discounts to encourage people to buy,” he said in statements to the Arab World Press (AWP).

Egypt has been embroiled in an acute economic crisis for years, and the pound’s value has nosedived versus the dollar, despite a series of financial measures launched by the government in 2016.

The publishers calculate the costs of books from the U.S. dollar to the Egyptian pound, but at the rates of the parallel market, where the dollar has hit EGP65, while the official exchange rate of the local currency is EGP30.9.

“All of our books and their raw materials are valued at the U.S. dollar. We import the paper and inks from outside Egypt. The high costs in Egypt, like electricity and other things, have increased the price of printing. Accordingly, the cost of books has quadrupled over the last year,” explained Farouq.

A total of 1,200 publishers from 70 countries are taking part in the CIBF, held under the motto, ‘We Create Knowledge. We Preserve the Word.’ Egyptologist Selim Hassan was selected as the ‘Figure of the Fair,’ and Ya’qub al-Sharouni was selected as the ‘Figure of the Children’s Book Fair’.

Some believe that the record inflation rates that pushed prices up in Egypt last year have rendered books a “luxury commodity,” and most readers who visited the fair opted to buy from the government publishing houses that still subsidize book printing.

Some publishers suggested that the fair’s momentum was only a “false crowdedness,” considering it is customary for Egyptians to visit the annual fair during the mid-term holiday.

Sherif Bakr, the former secretary-general of the Egyptian Publishers Association, said hopes are still pinned on support from the masses, as was the case with the CIBF editions following the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The fair, in which the Kingdom of Norway was selected to be the guest of honor, stands over an area of 80,000 square meters, with five halls hosting booths by 1,200 Egyptian, Arab and foreign publishing houses.