The Jeddah International Book Fair drew to a close Christmas Eve and as ever, while many people went home laden with books, others couldn’t carry as many as they’d have liked, and of course many simply couldn’t be there for the big event.

But across the Middle East, as elsewhere where the bookstore infrastructure we in the west take for granted is not an option, book fairs and literary festivals are places to stock up on books otherwise unavailable.

This year the Jeddah Fair has risen to the occasion, with book vending machines in situ to help ease the long queues, and for those who couldn’t make it, or wanted more than they could carry, a national delivery service was on offer.

Jeddah’s .book vending machine

Book vending machines have been in Jeddah for at least five years, but of course only offers a handful of the most popular titles.

By contrast B8ks.com, which launched earlier this year, now offers one million titles with delivery anywhere across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with COD payment options for those without credit cards.

While the selection does reflect the conservative Muslim values of the country’s rulers, as reported here at TNPS the kingdom is in the early stages of major reforms, and while it’s unlikely we’ll see erotica authors topping the Saudi charts anytime soon, Saudi Arabia is an exciting prospect for publishers and authors.

The bigger Riyadh International Book Fair in Saudi Arabia is scheduled for March 10-24 2018, and for those interested, registration ends December 30th this year.