Many of those growing up in Egypt have fond memories of looking forward to the Cairo International Book Fair every year, saving up their allowance and compiling a long list of all the books they want to buy.
As the largest and oldest book fair in the Arab world, the fair has become an annual staple of Cairo, usually held during the last week of January. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed this year until June 30th.
This year’s fair is aiming to attract 100,000 visitors daily, all following precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Recent research done by the editing and proofreading service Global English Editing showed that Egypt came fifth on the list of countries that read the most, with Egyptians reading an average of seven and a half hours a week. India came in first place with 10 hours and 42 minutes weekly spent reading, followed by Thailand, China and the Philippines.
Despite landing fairly high on the list, Egypt failed to land a spot on the list of countries that publish the most books on an annual basis. China topped that list with 440,000 books published annually, followed by the US, the UK and Japan.
Egypt also failed to make it on the list of the top 12 countries whose populations read the news more than once a day, nor on the list of the top three African countries with the most digital readers.
The research also indicated that there was a significant drop in physical book sales due to the pandemic, although still more prominent than e-books. The US saw a 38 percent decrease in physical book sales, despite 33 percent of its population reading more throughout the pandemic.
Although nothing was directly reported on Egypt, this is telling of the toll physical book sales has taken on the entire world. This begs the question of holding the Cairo Book Fair, especially at a time when large gatherings are not recommended.
According to the Egyptian Publishers Association, Egypt has around 1,500 publishers and 500 publishing houses, so it is expected that canceling the fair this year will negatively impact their sales, seeing the large number of people the fair draws.