Two hundred publishers will be in Istanbul this week for the 4th annual Arabic Book Fair, regarded as the largest Arabic literary event approved by the Arab Publishers’ outside of the Arab countries.
“Discover a New World” is this year’s theme.
Emrah Kısakürek, chairman of Media Publishing Union which is organising the event at Istanbul’s Eurasia Exhibition and Art Centre September 1-9, sees the event as nurturing ties with the Arab world and promoting Turkish literature across the globe.
Kısakürek hopes the opening of the new airport for Istanbul will encourage travel to the capital and help make the city a global centre of publishing.
Given the political situation in Turkey, especially with regard to publishing freedom, this seems an overly optimistic ambition right now, but politics aside there are certainly reasons to be optimistic.
Earlier this month TurkStat, the Turkish Statistical Institute, issued its annual report on Turkish libraries, noting the number of books in Turkish libraries reached nearly 64.5 million in 2017, up 2.7 percent from 62.8 million in 2016.
Turkey has over 28,000 libraries, made up of one national library, 1,146 public libraries, 564 university libraries and 26,415 formal and non-formal education libraries.
The number of books in the national library totaled 1.4 million, up 8.6 percent year-on-year in 2017, and the number of library beneficiaries decreased by 1 percent to nearly 630,000 in this period.
Public libraries had nearly 20 million books, university libraries had 16.5 million and formal and non-formal education libraries had 26.7 million books in the last year.
The national library had nearly 26,500 registered members, while public libraries have over 2.2 million and university libraries had 3.8 million members in 2017.
And as reported here in March, 2018 was off to a good start for Turkey’s publishers, with hopes of a record-breaking year.
Turkey’s numerous book fairs regularly attract hundreds of thousands of visitors. In 2017 the Istanbul International Book Fair and the Istanbul CNR International Book Fair attracted 621,000 and 407,000 visitors respectively. Many other Turkish literary events are not far behind, with book fair and literary festival attendance growing every year.
In 2017 the IPA assessed Turkey as the eleventh largest book market in the world, valued at $1.8 billion.
In addition Turkey has enormous as yet unexploited potential in the digital reading sector.
Turkey started this century with just 2 million people online. Today it is in the top twenty countries in the world by internet user count, with 56 million people online, and still at only 68% penetration.