23 December, 2005

The publishing crisis in the Arab world

Al-Ahram Weekly Culture In pursuit of the reader

The 24th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) threw into relief the publishing crisis in the Arab world. . . .

Adnan Salem, publisher of the Lebanese Dar Al-Fikr, also complains about low sales figures. In his view, the real problem is a lack of interest in reading among Arabs. "Even if you provide books for next to nothing, people would not read them if they do not have an interest in reading. The popular book series Iqra', published in the 1960s by Dar Al-Maaref in Egypt, was very successful; but the series was discontinued two or three decades ago for lack of people interested in reading."
. . .
Said Al-Barghouti, a translator, asserted that there is an undeniable crisis in translation in the Arab world. "For example," he said, "Israel translates annually more than what all Arab countries put together translate in a given year." He attributes this crisis to the limited resources of publishing houses and the absence of a vision or integrated policy of translation.
. . .
Omar Abdel-Aziz, an official from the Culture and Information Sector of Sharjah, pointed out to the need of an Arab search engine. "Arab researchers resort to Google and Yahoo, which cater for foreign choices, so there is limited Arab data available on the net. Investment in this field is essential."
Emphasis added.

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