By Hadeel Hegazy
Farshet Kotob is a second-hand book event that is held weekly by the Al-Kotob Khan bookstore, founded in 2006. Farshet is Arabic for the stands that street vendors use to sell their products on; every Friday, farshet, filled with second-hand books, are set up in the bookstore in Degla, Maadi.
During the event, people can sell the books they have finished reading to the bookstore, buy other second-hand books, or exchange their books for those on offer on the stands. “We found a decrease in people purchasing books recently due to comparatively high prices; that’s why we thought of creating the event,” Mohamed Shafiq, the branch manager of Al-Kotob Khan’s bookstore in Degla, said.
Al-Kotob Khan believes that by creating this event, they serve a segment of the population who want to read but cannot afford to buy new books. The bookstore developed the plan carefully: “We started the event three weeks ago, but we’ve been preparing it for two months,” Shafiq said. “We didn’t expect people would react with such positivity; the number of people attending the event [is] increasing every week.”
Besides selling your old books to the bookstore, or buying new things to read for a reduced price, “people furthermore can exchange their books for other books and pay only half the price,” Shafiq added. The event depends on the participation of customers: “You can also volunteer your old books by placing them in the special boxes in our branches,” as described on the event’s Facebook page. All books are welcome, in all languages, fiction and non-fiction, as long as they are in good shape.
Farshet Kotob is designed to encourage and remind people of the value of reading. The initiative has garnered support not only from the public but also from Kamla Wageh Abu Zekry, who donated part of her father’s library, a well-known journalist, to the event.
Al-Kotob Khan hosts other events as well: “Every month there is an agenda that includes book signing events, book discussions; and we organise different workshops, in topics like sculpture, caricatures and animation,” Islam, the Al-Lasilky branch manager, said. In October, woodworking workshops and drawing for kids are scheduled on Fridays and Saturdays.
Furthermore, they host poetry symposiums featuring poets from different backgrounds and celebrations on the anniversaries of famous writers. Al-Kotob Khan participated in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, which was held in more than 550 countries, where they hosted several promising young poets like Fatma Kandil and Wael Abd-El Fatah.
The Farshet Kotob is well worth a visit for anyone who loves to read, but are on a budget and for those who want to clean out their bookshelves and fill them with new adventures. It takes place every Friday from 10am to 6pm, and the prices of books do not exceed EGP 15.