Mary Mourad and the team at Ahram Online have been doing a fine job reporting on the opening of the 43rd annual Cairo International Book Fair (they even have a schedule of events). So, instead of another report, I thought I’d take you along on my first visit to the 2012 fair as I collected impressions.

And yes, ¡Viva la Revolución!

The entrance looked just like old times: Only the banner is different. Tickets are to the right, still just 1LE.
The area immediately inside looked very much like 2010.
Dar al Shorouk still has their prime spot right near the main entrance. (At the moment, it seems to be the only entrance.) In 2010, I was fighting for air and afraid my children might be crushed. This year, crowds were decent-sized near the entrance but not overwhelming by any stretch.
Searching for Hall 3. The boy in the orange sweater was not pleased by the fresh rubble. Father: "Oh, give me your hand, ya basha."

AUC Press has a much-reduced presence way back in Cairo-fairgrounds Siberia this year. Presumably, after the mysterious disappearance of $10,000 worth of shelving and such, they decided not to re-invest. Here, a small revolution display.
Our friends at Dar al Balsam were even deeper in Siberia, particularly since the Salah Salem entrance was closed. "It's very peaceful," publisher Balsam Saad said, a bit chagrined. She surmised that people were staying away from the fair until after January 25 (Part II) shook out.

 

Nope, no shortage of religious texts. Although plenty of secular ones, too.
I didn't go into the Saudia Arabian...castle. I did see lots of kids waving paper flags with the KSA flag on one side and the Egyptian on the other. Saw a few kids with flags that were green, orange, and white (Ireland?). No Tunisian flags that I saw (Tunisia is the guest of honor).
The Dar el-Ain booth seemed pretty quiet as well. Copies of Ezzedine Choukri Fishere's "Embrace at the Brooklyn Bridge" prominently displayed.
Hall 1 seemed to be for religious publishers.
The Azbekia Hall! Basically, the paper market excerpted and relocated.
Comics.
There was more foot traffic here than elsewhere. And, it seemed, a bit more buying.
Still, the Azbakia Hall wasn't doing great business. No one was, for instance, elbowing anyone out of the way. No one was even in my line of sight as I scanned titles.
If you head all the way to the back, you'll see this revolutionary mural. It's a little broken back here.
Things seemed a bit more broken than in the past. Or perhaps, with fewer people around, I had more opportunity to look at the grounds. More revolutionary muraling.
There was a children's art area hidden way in the back.
An organizer explained to me that on display here was the results of a competition called "Egypt in the Eyes of Children of the World."
The project was juried in 2010 (and perhaps in storage last year), thus held under the Suzanne Mubarak regime. One imagines that children's impressions of Egypt have globally changed since then.
Contrary to popular belief, there is an information booth. And while there are no maps (or schedules), the woman in the booth was supremely nice. (Although yes, she sent me off in the wrong direction.)
The food area smelled lovely. And lots of seats available this year.
Don't let it be said that government-owned Al Ahram didn't get a nice, fancy-looking tent.
The green spaces were none too crowded: Plenty of space for football!

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