I don’t quite understand this government-run survey. I imagine that, even in the closest-knit Egyptian family, there might be slight differences of opinion about reading.

The Cairo Book Fair: Why Only 1.8 Million?

Also, I’m not sure how the attendance of “only” 1.8 million at the winter book fair is evidence of anything other than…well, you couldn’t have squeezed in many more bodies.It’s no evidence of a love of reading—the fair’s a cheap carnival, a blast, a moulid—but it’s hardly evidence against a love of reading, either.

Certainly, this is not Egypt’s golden age of literacy. I believe the article correctly pinpoints one main cause: the high price of books and low salaries. Another: censorship. Another: not-so-super public schools.

But this interesting fact was buried at the end of Al Masry Al Youm’s article: “73.6 percent of Egyptian youth read on the Internet, with females outnumbering males in internet reading percentage (77.7 percent compared to 68 percent).”

How can 88 percent not be interested in reading while 73.6 percent (of young people) read online? Either the percentage of young people in Egypt is a lot smaller than it appears to the naked eye, or what occurs on the Internet not reading?

Perhaps it will be like phone technology. Land lines weren’t popular, then suddenly everyone had a mobile phone. Paper books (other than the Qur’an and school books) aren’t so popular, then suddenly everyone has a … Kindle/Nook thingie?