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Sidon schoolbook sales falling, shop owners say.

Summary: Despite the academic year kicking off, bookshop owners in Sidon say sales of schoolbooks are paling in comparison to previous years, with some attributing the drop to students transferring from private to public schools.

SIDON. Lebanon: Despite the academic year kicking off, bookshop owners in Sidon say sales of schoolbooks are paling in comparison to previous years, with some attributing the drop to students transferring from private to public schools.

Ayman Nassar, owner of Nassar Bookshop, said business had slowed down considerably this year.

"This is because a significant number of students have moved from private schools to public schools, due to the deteriorating economic situation," Nassar told The Daily Star.

Students at public schools in Lebanon get books for free thanks to a grant from Saudi Arabia. While classes have already kicked off in most private schools across the country, public schools are to start next week.

Other bookshop owners said the deteriorating security situation had prompted some parents to transfer their kids from private schools outside Sidon to public ones closer to their homes, enabling them to come home quickly in the event of an emergency.

Nassar said he would have a clearer idea of exact retail figures once classes at public schools began, and once schools decided how they would go about purchasing books.

Another factor affecting book sales is whether Syrian refugees of school-going age and residing in Sidon would join a public, private or special school. The number of Syrians in Sidon of school-going age doubled this year.

But Ziad Kelo, owner of Ziad Bookshop, said the drop in book sales was not too steep: "The situation is acceptable ... although the demand for books isn't like it usually is, I can say that there is a 5 percent decline."

"But I can't say that there is one specific reason to account for that."

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Sep 20, 2013
Words:325
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