The poster is different this year– although the images on the Cairo International Book Fair website remain the same — and officials at the General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO) told Ahram Online that the “poster does not reflect a new strategy or orientation exactly, but suggests that writers are looking forward to a new era.”
Thus far, whether the prototypical Egyptian in the poster holds the book in his lap (old) or above his head (new), the fair seems much the same: a large, crumbling, chaotic moulid with books for sale from Jan 23 – Feb 5.
This year’s guest of honor is Libya, as India — the first invitee — turned down the offer, as the event clashes with the New Delhi World Book Fair. Last year’s guest of honor was Tunis, and fair head Ahmed Megahed said at a press conference yesterday that, “We consider that this is an extension of the emotions of the January revolution, and we hope that next year’s guest of honor is Syria.”
The theme of this year’s fair, the 44th, is “Dialogue — Not Clash.” According to Akhbar el Youm, this year’s fair will feature a series of debates on issues of interest to Egyptians, including the economy and the constitution.
In addition to awards started last year, there is a new award for best publisher, open to publishers that joined the Publishers Association within the last ten years.
Ahram Online reports that Pres. Mohamed Morsi “might” ceremonially open the fair, as Hosni Mubarak once did.
Generally, the fair has been a prime time for book seizures and scuttling authors’ favorite fairgrounds hangouts; insha’allah we will see none of that this year.