Cairo- The publishing industry in Egypt suffers from many problems starting from the falsification of books to the economic struggles driven by the US dollar hike against the Egyptian pound, leading to a three-fold increase in prices of books. Thus, publishing houses had to reduce staff and shut down branches of their libraries. Many publishers have called on concerned authorities for intervention to support and save this industry.
Dar al-Ain publisher Fatima al-Boudi said that the hike of foreign currency has affected all publishing phases, starting from the price of paper to the cost of printing and labor. However, she added that despite the increase of book prices, people still have a big appetite for reading, which motivate publishing houses to maintain their efforts. Boudi said that publishing houses have tried to cope with this crisis by reducing the number of published books and the number of copies. Dar al-Ain publisher has called on the government to intervene to save this industry and support the private houses; considering that the government can dedicate a budget for university and school books and to raise awareness on reading through specialized campaigns.
Egyptian publishers and academics have blamed the government for abandoning the publishing industry, saying no new projects were launched to promote this sector since the nineties.
President of the Arab Publishers Union Mohammed Rashad agreed with the above-mentioned views calling for an important governmental intervention to support this industry. He said that the union has submitted a memorandum to the Arab League’s Secretary General urging Arab governments to support this industry. Rashad revealed that this crisis would be a priority in the Conference of Arab Culture Ministers set to be held in 2018. He also called on the government to take the necessary procedures against entities and individuals who falsify books or hack e-books, endangering the future of the publishing industry in the Arab world.
Fady Greiss, owner of the Anglo Egyptian Bookshop, said that this issue would certainly affect the content of books and their value. He also expected the crisis would persist as long as the Egyptian market lacks for the US dollar. Greiss saw that e-books cannot be considered a solution for this because the majority of readers prefer paper books.
Other publishers said that the falsification of books has been another threat endangering the future of this industry. They also considered that the economic crises and the Egyptian people’s low purchase capacity have also played to the struggle of the publishing sector.