February 25, 2011

More good news from Tahrir Square


Shelf Awareness yesterday pointed us to this story in The Bookseller by Lisa Campbell about booksellers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square beginning to open up shop again as the city gets back to a new sort of normal.

For weeks during the demonstrations, the American University of Cairo Press Bookstore had to shut down because of all the commotion outside its doors. (If I know booksellers, I suspect most of the store’s staff were busy in the square anyway.) Now that Hosni Mubarak is gone, there is excitement at the prospect of being able to publish without fear of government censorship or reprisals. AUC Press’s associate director of sales, marketing and distribution Trevor Naylor outlined his excitement to Campbell thusly:

“Many Egyptian stores opened up again on Sunday for the first time, the atmosphere is absolutely wonderful not least because the Egyptians themselves are happy about the change. For a long time we had armoured tanks parked outside the store. There was no point in opening because no one could get in—and when there are one million people outside your door you do get a little nervous.

“We are hopeful now that what has happened will have a positive effect on education, and publishers and booksellers will have more freedom to sell books. There will also be so many stories people will want to tell about what has happened here—that will mean more books.”

Booksellers on the square have another reason to be excited. In light of the cancellation of the Cairo International Book Fair, the AUC Press has announced that they will be hosting a new book fair at the end of March: The Tahrir Book Fair, set to take place on the American University of Cairo campus as well as in Tahrir Square.

“Everyone around the globe now associates Tahrir Square with freedom and revolution,” explains Naylor, “we really wanted to do something that celebrates what happened here, and this seems like a great way to do it.”