The Azbekeya Book Market announced on Tuesday the inauguration of its first independent book fair, in an attempt to combat the ministry of culture’s decision of eliminating the majority of book traders from participating in the 50th Cairo International Book Fair.
Through Azbekeya Book Market’s official Facebook page, the traders announced that they are opening a free-entrance book fair for a month. The Azbakeya Book fair will be held from 15 January to 15 February within the same timeframe of the Cairo International Book Fair which will take place from 23 January to 5 February.
The Azabekeya Market usually attracts thousands of book fair visitors, due to selling old, used, low-cost priced-books that usually do not exceed EGP 20.
This year, with the transfer of the location of the 50th Cairo International Book Fair to the Egypt International Exhibition Centre, located in the Fifth Settlement, the General Egyptian Book Organisation informed Azbekeya book traders that the new place will only have a space for a few of them, which leaves the majority of them withheld from showcasing their books at the fair.
“The General Egyptian Book Organisation informed us that the allocated area for the Azbekeya book market cannot have more than 33 traders to showcase their books, while we are over 100. They also raised the renting rate,” the statement read.
Despite the fact that the ministry of culture stated that the new exhibit halls are bigger and wider than the old one, the International Convention Centre (ICC) where the fair has been held at for 30 years, Azbekeya book traders stated in their official statement that they were informed elsewise.
The traders added that they did not intend to participate at the 50th Cairo International Book Fair, however the timing they decided to hold the independent book fair at is due to mid-year vacations.
“The independent book fair came to prevent the loss that could have occurred to book traders. They purchased large numbers of books to sell at the 50th Cairo International Book Fair,” the statement added.
Most of the sold books at the Azbekeya market are used and old, yet hold important value in authenticity. The books cannot be found elsewhere, because publishing houses only sell new books.
The independent book fair is met by admiration from people. Thousands of users expressed their rage at eliminating the Azbekeya book market from the book fair.
As the only place to sell books at affordable prices for the public, it has been one of the most targeted places among all book fair exhibitors.
The 50th Cairo International Book Fair opens its doors among a huge wave of media anger due to the relocation of the book fair at the Egypt International Exhibition Centre, located in the Fifth Settlement, which is considered a very distant location for most people, with very few available public transportation.
Since the announcement of the new location it was moved to, calls of boycotting the book fair increased because unlike the ICC, which is located in the middle of Cairo, with several transportation options and routes, the Egypt International Exhibition Centre is located at Al-Mosher Tantawy axis, a highway with few public transportation options.
The calls also put in a claim on social media to head towards the “alternative book fair”.
Comments showed people backing the independent book fair, against the official one.
“You have all of our support, knowing that you will provide us with the discounts that allow all bookworms to have the long awaited for books,” a user stated.
“I will not go to the Cairo International Book Fair this year, and will definitely visit this one instead,” another user commented on the statement.