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Tehran Intl. Book Fair crowded with visitors or readers?

By Setareh Behroozi


TEHRAN The crowds in colored dresses entering Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Mosalla to visit the Tehran International Book Fair suggest a warm welcome to reading books by Iranian society.


Tehran International Book Fair is Iran’s most important cultural event and is the largest sales fair open to the general public in Central Asia and the Middle East.

It seems that the book fair’s venue is not important for participants either. This year’s fair is taking place in Tehran’s Mosalla while the Tehran Permanent International Fair Grounds hosted it in previous years.

First of all, one must separate casual visitors from serious book readers. Although many readers attend the fair from all over Iran, some of them prefer to buy their books in local bookstores throughout the year.

Many high school and university students attend the fair to visit educational and academic publishers. Parents and their children with painted faces reunite with old friends from around the nation at the fair and represent a major portion of the crowds.

This edition of the event is hosting 1129 publishers who are offering their products in 1000 stands in the general section, while 80 countries have 9980 representative publishers at the event.

A few Iranian publishers were prohibited from attending the fair by Iran’s Ministry of culture and Islamic guidance and certain books, including stories written by Hushang Golshiri and Forugh Farrokhzad’s poetry, were confiscated.

Previously in a press conference, Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Cultural Affairs Mohsen Parviz called the restricting the attendance of some publishers at the fair the “penalty for offender publishers”.

However, the motto “Books for All” which appears on the poster of this book fair does not bring any changes to the available facilities at the book fair this year.

The general section of the book fair includes books on art, philosophy, religion and literature, but children’s, academic and educational books are offered in separated sections.

For many years, scholars suggestions to divide general publishers according to their themes has not been accepted by officials at this time, so in the general section, publishers are still organized alphabetically.

The fact is that the book fair does not meet the expectations of readers who look to the event as a means to buy books and even to enjoy recently published books.

Holding a fair like this once in a year in a specific city, namely Tehran, leads to a kind of precipitance in both book readers and publishers.

The crowded isles of the fair, the arrangement of the stands and the crowd in front of a limited number of information booths are problems readers confront while searching for their favorite books.

On the other hand, publishers rush to offer their new products during the event, which leads to books lacking in quality and translations which are not even close when compared with the original texts.

According to official information, 1,900 Iranian and 1,700 international exhibitors from 79 countries presented their publishing products in 2009. Estimated at 5 million, the crowds of visitors broke all previous records.

Almost 3000 copies of books for a country with a population of 75 million, 90 percent of whose people are literate strikes a stark contrast with the numbers who actually flock to the fair during its 10 days.

Whatever the reason, the eagerness of visitors to attend the book fair provides an opportunity for publishers to attract people and introduce them to the benefits they can enjoy by reading books.


Tehran Times
May 13, 2010


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