The Amman International Book Fair is underway in Jordan this week as the Arab book fair season gathers momentum.
Although smaller fairs like Al Ain in the UAE are already playing to an enthusiastic crowd –
The Jordan event is generally considered the start of the Arab book fair season, as the first “international” fair.
This year the Amman IBF, with Egypt as guest of honour, will be fielding some 370 publishers from 17 countries, and while most of the Arab fairs focus on literary issues Amman has an overtly political theme to drive home: “Jerusalem is Palestine’s capital.”
The Amman fair has ten days to run, and I hope to return to the topic as news comes in.
Meanwhile a mention of Yaqut and Jamalon is in order, as so little coverage is to be found elsewhere about Jordan’s online book market.
Jamalon sells print books, delivered to your door, and stocks some ten million Arabic and English language titles, lending credibility to its claim to be the largest online bookstore in the Middle East.
Jamalon, which will celebrate its eighth birthday in October, offers payment options geared to customers in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region, giving it a clear advantage over international bookstores like Amazon.
For ebooks, Jordanians and other Arab nationals will likely turn to Jordanian ebook store Yaqut, Kotobi (operating from neighbouring Egypt). or Nooon Books (operating from Algeria).
Yaqut is one of a small number of MENA-based ebook stores that compete with Google Play (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) for ebook dollars in the region.
At this stage neither Amazon nor Apple have any effective presence in the region, although with the acquisition of Souq, the introduction of Arabic to the Kindle store languages, and signs Amazon is working with Egyptian publishers to help digitise, it may be Amazon is about to upgrade its MENA book interests.
Meanwhile audiobooks are doing well across the region, with Dahd, Kitab Sawti –
and Storytel –
all active in this sector.
Next month sees two of the biggest Arab book fairs take the stage, with Algiers and Sharjah between them likely to attract more than 4 million visitors.
Stay tuned to TNPS this Arab book fair season to see the Arab Renaissance unfold.