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Post-revolt book industry yet to recover.

Summary: CAIRO - Cleaning the dust accumulated over piles of books in a delicate and careful manner, a worker in one of central Cairo bookstores was looking every now and then at the door in the hope that one of the many passers-by in this crowded area to come in and buy one of the books he cleans every day.

When a group of three journalists stepped into the shop, the worker smiled, mistaking them for customers, but his hopes came to pieces when he learned that they were there only to ask questions about the book market after the January 25 revolution.

"Book sales suffer extreme recession after three months after the revolution," said Amr Madbouli, a book seller from central Cairo and the son of hajj Mohamed Madbouli, a famous publisher-cum-book seller who was not educated, but could help hundreds of writers rise to fame by publishing their books.

"If we compare book sales this month with the corresponding month last year, we can see the recession hitting the book market clearly," he told The Egyptian Gazette in an interview.

The January 25 revolution brought Egyptians in general a sense of unbeatable political triumph. The revolution, however, seems to have brought a large number of industries, including the book industry, an economic failure.

Almost three months after a popular revolt swept Hosni Mubarak away from Egypt's political life, book sellers and producers complain that the revolution had brought them nothing but recession and stagnation.

Madbouli had to turn 70 per cent of the book projects he received back. He said he did not dismiss any of the staff of the bookstore, but cannot guarantee what will happen in the future.

"If this recession continues to persist, I think we will need to reconsider our attitudes in the future," he said. "The recession will make me run at a loss."

Even with this, the revolution gave rise to sales of books on the constitution, democracy, politics, and legal issues, according to book sellers.

The book sellers say although this surge in book sales on these issues cannot compensate the losses they sustain as a result of the fact that Egyptians have refrained from buying books in general, it does something to minimise their losses.

Economists say a small slice of Egyptians can afford to buy books, while economic activities seem to have come to a complete halt here.

People with high and stable incomes can purchase books without the fear of not finding money at the end of the month to feed their children, one economist said.

This, however, is not the general picture in a diverse country like Egypt. In the well-known al-Shorouq bookstore on Talaat Harb Street, clients rubbed shoulders and kept looking at the titles that filled the shelves of the orderly store.

Some of them were looking for books about the recent Egyptian revolution. Others were searching for political titles.

In another neighbouring store, a young client was delighted to find some books that used to be banned during the Mubarak days on the shelves. One of them was a book written by the vocal Mubarak critic Abdel Haleem Qandeel. The book is called "A Red Card for the President".

"Some books were not allowed to be published, because they were criticising the former regime," Mohamed Abdel Azeem, the chairman of Omar bookstore, told this newspaper.

"There are fluctuations in the market," Mohamed Abdel Azeem, the general manager of Omar Bookstore in central Cairo.

"There was recession immediately after the revolution, but I think this recession starts to go away day after day," he added.

The Egyptian Gazette 2011 All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Egyptian Gazette (Cairo, Egypt)
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:May 16, 2011
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