Jordanian short-story writer Hisham Bustani calls him “the king of used and old books”:
Now Hamzeh AlMaaytah — a stalwart of Amman’s bookselling and booklending community — is looking to save and expand his bookshop, Mahal al-Maa, with the help of Jordanian and international donors.
The campaign has already raised more than $5,600, with another month of fundraising still ahead.
As the fundraising website states:
Before Jordan opened its first public library, al-Maa lent books to the people of Amman. Today, Hamzeh makes sure that even the least privileged patrons can read. Anyone can borrow or exchange a book for the token sum of 1 dinar ($1.41), and there are public shelves outside the store, where passersby can take books and pay whatever they can afford.
According to project co-coordinator Alan Elbaum, “For the last 17 years, Hamzeh has made his bookstore into a vision of everything that is beautiful about the Middle East: endless hospitality and cups of sage tea… deep concern for the poor and the displaced… people of all cultures and religions mingling underneath towers of secondhand books.”
Lately, Elbaum says, the shop has fallen on difficult economic times and is in need of assistance in order to stay afloat. However, just staying afloat aren’t al-Maa’s only goals.
The project’s short-term goals are renovating and expanding the store, establishing a literary and cultural salon, and “bringing books out into the community.”
Medium-term goals include book fairs in schools, prisons, and refugee camps. The project’s long-term goals include a radio show and a museum for rare Arabic books.
You can find out more about the campaign at their IndieGoGo site.
More book-raising campaigns:
You can donate books to the libraries of Mosul project.
The Library in Gaza project is also looking for books.