Competition May Drive Cairo’s Booksellers to Seek New, Lower-income Buyers

In a generally depressing article in Al Masry Al Youm about the few Cairenes who are targeted by the new bookstore boom (those “who can afford to shop for expensive Arabic and foreign books while sipping a cappuccino and savoring a marble cake”), I found this exciting gem:

But as competition is getting harsher in Cairo, [Diwan co-founder Hind] Wassef and some of her counterparts are contemplating searching for new markets outside the capital city and targeting readers with thinner wallets.

We have already seen bookstores opening outside the capital city—in the expensive resort areas, yawn—but the second suggestion is very exciting! There are some titles that could be in the immediate reach of the “thinner wallet” crowd. Some middle-class friends visited us recently and were delighted by the Fizo books (for children), which I told them were selling for 5LE a pop.

That seemed like a reasonable price to them, although the idea of traveling to a bookstore in Zamalek or Heliopolis or Ma’adi was not so appealing.

Yes, we’ve all been to a sparsely attended Cairo literary event, so I will not repeat anything else from the article (oh, okay one more thing: Alef co-founder Ahmed Rahmi claims the rise in Cairene book-buying is due to fashion alone, and that some Egyptians may not even read the books they buy??)—you’ll have to read the rest yourself.