Publishing Another Victim of Conflict in Syria

Despite and because of everything that has happened in the last three years, Syrian publishers continue to struggle to produce books. In a piece for Publishing Perspectives, I talk about the industry’s challenges with Syrian publishers who are currently in exile:

Poet, publisher, translator Osama Esber.

Osama Esber, pictured at right, has also written a moving piece about Syrian publishing for the Tadween publishing blog (in Arabic). From Publishing Perspectives:

The fierce conflict over Syria’s future, which began with great hopes in the spring of 2011, has battered the country’s publishing industry.

“Now the conflict is entering its third year,” said Osama Esber, who founded the Dar Bidayat publishing house in Damascus in 2004, “and publishing will be one of its victims.”

Syrian publisher and poet Osama Esber has moved from Damascus to Chicago.

Many publishers have joined the two million other Syrians who have left the country. But some have remained, Esber said. Life continues, and people find ways to fight the situation. Yet the problems these publishers face are enormous.

“The price of paper in Syria is linked to the dollar, because Syria imports all kinds of papers,” Esber said. “So the rise of the dollar made paper very expensive and this affected the industry.”

Other supplies have also increased in price. Even for the publisher who can afford to keep printing, the danger is ever-present. Most print shops are located in neighborhoods that have witnessed heavy conflict, such as al-Qaddam and al’Asali. Sometimes, Esber said, “you print the book but you cannot move it to the store, and this happened to me.” … Keep reading on PP.

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