Sana’a Book Fair,Dose deprived participants quarter of their profits [Archives:2005/881/Business & Economy]

September 29 2005


The price dose the Yemeni government has imposed on fuel prices and increase of taxes and new duties on sales and customs tariff, even on telephone and electricity bills, impacted profits of participants in Sana'a International Book Fair. There have been 360 local, Arab and foreign publishing houses, establishments and bookshops representing more than 20 countries, exhibiting more than 132 thousand titles of books and publications and educational programs taking part in the fair.

During our visit to the fair we heard from participant publishing houses a noticeable drop in sale of their exhibits. They affirm that students, the larger number of visitors, usually come to get acquainted with exhibits and look for story books and pictorial booklets I addition to some university requirements, but quantities of sales are low because of the low level of income of families of those visitors.

Participant publishers add that the sales of this fair have clearly been affected by the high prices of he places for exhibition, the square meter of which amounted to $40 per day. That, they say, forced them to increase prices of books and that is negatively reflected on the visitors' purchasing ability, although their sales are exempted from customs duties. They also say the presence of visitors and volume of buying are low compared to previous years. A visitor to the fair would notice that its passages are almost empty, an indication of the people deteriorated financial conditions and retreat in their spending capabilities.

Representative of the Syrian Al-Ahali House said with regard to organization, the fair was well organized and the number of participant publishing houses was increasing if compared to past years. He hopes that in future sessions there should be a better solution for the question of organizing book parcels in pavilions to avoid confusion that happens during the process of clearing them from stores. As for selling movement, he says it is slow and low compared to previous years. The reason can be attributed to weakness of the citizen's purchasing power, quite contrary of some sides where personal friendship control and that situation deprives the rest of houses of their dues in such activities.

A visitor of the fair Mohammed al-Zawahi says the cultural activities were lower in standard that what is required. They were prevailed by celebrating publications of the ministry of culture and tourism although they were issued last year in coincidence with declaration of Sana'a Capital of Arab culture 2004. The intellectual activities have reflected a state of confusion and low organization. Many Arab intellectuals who were announced to attend the fair did not come. Another visitor says many of the fair pavilions did not include books but rather educational material and children tings, and as for poetry and novel evenings there was a group of poets and novelists but the organizing parties did not take care levels and experiences of the participants and the space of time given to each poet or novelist.

It is observed this year that the concerned parties have taken precautionary measures aimed at protecting the society against sectarian culture promoting for acts of extremism and terror. Te ministry of culture and tourism prevented participation of books related to the ideology of the twelve imams and many of the extremist and Shiite books. It has prevented Yemeni libraries and publishing houses from taking part as what happened to the Library of Imam Zaid Bin Ali in Sana'a. Visitor Zaid Ali Yahya, a university student believes it was supposed by the fair organizers and participants to restore the reader's trust in the book that has lost its readership in the late years due to development in communications and media and the internet. He says there should be some keenness on providing readers with cheaper books in order to enlarge spread of the book on the one hand and to enhance the purchasing power of the reader and university researcher who hopes to get cheaper references suitable to his income.

Participants in the fair say the present fair has seen retreat in performance level. Yemeni and non-Yemeni participants complaints continue. All of tem are unanimous that the high rent price of exhibition areas, strict monitoring and weakness of organization are repulsive factors and that can be seen in that many participants have sent representatives who are their agents at local publishing houses.