With one million titles on offer it was always going to be a big attraction, but even so the numbers soared over previous years, setting a new record of 400,000 visitors. In 2017 100,000 was the record, so a clear sign that the Arab Renaissance is gaining momentum.
The Erbil event in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region comes soon after the main Iraq book event, the Baghdad International Book Fair, clocked one million visitors for the first time.
That of course was joined by the Muscat International Book Fair in Oman, which also topped one million, setting yet another record for 2019.
Running from April 3 through 13, the latest numbers mean the Erbil International Book Fair has leaped from averaging 9,000 visitors a day just two years ago to 36,000 a day this year.
One wonders how many publishers outside the region have even thought about the bigger Arab book market, let alone sectors like Kurdistan.
Mohammed Gardi, head of the media office at the Ministry of Culture and Youth, has reported sale rates were also up noticeably this year, although no figures were given. I’ve contacted the organisers for further details and will update this post if any further data is forthcoming.
300 publishers from 21 countries took part in this year’s event.