BT(E) on the Death of Publishing in Egypt

Sorry: As a recovering journalist, I find these dramatic headlines about the death of Arabic, touch typing, Cape Cod radio, bookstores, and so on irresistible.

Osama Diab at Business Today (Egypt) asks, in his autopsy of Egyptian publishing: Will the digital age by the final nail in the [book world’s] coffin?

In his April 2010 piece, the digital world is the enemy of reading in Egypt:

Although most publishing houses would not provide sales numbers, Madbouli, one of the largest publishing houses and bookstore chains in Egypt, reports overall sales plummeting 60% in 2009.

Sixty percent—I’m no business major, but that sounds bad. But the digital world is probably not to blame. Mostafa El Faramawy, purchasing manager at Dar Al Shorouk, told BT(E) that inflation is his biggest bugaboo:

“The increasing cost of materials such as paper and printing [materials] is the biggest challenge facing the book industry,” he says. “Increasing costs make it really hard to provide a high-quality book at a reasonable price.”

A recent government survey  tried to get at why Egyptians don’t read more. Fifty-six percent of Egyptians cited “shortage of financial means,” while 41 percent blamed the “high prices of books.”

That pretty much sums it up, I think.

Meanwhile, illiteracy rates are falling (about 70 percent of Egyptians can read, at least at some government-approved level). So at least people can afford to read online. As for myself, I prefer not to see blogs as a nail in publishing’s coffin, but as a (possible) way to increase exposure to literature, information, and the world.

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