All’s fair except prices at Sharjah book fair

All’s fair except prices at Sharjah book fair

Visitors disappointed with the increase in prices of books; publishers blame increasing stall rent and shipping cost.

By Afkar Abdullah/principal Correspondent

Published: Wed 12 Nov 2014, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 7:14 PM

Visitors at the 33rd Sharjah International Book Fair have been disappointed with the increase in the prices of a lot many books.

A visitor busy checking out the new books at the Sharjah International Book Fair. — KT photo by M. Sajjad

The publishers said the increasing stall rent and shipping cost were to blame for book prices to rise by up to 50 per cent as compared to last year. One publisher said, “When the rent of stalls, shipping cost and hotel stay charges have increased, we don’t have a choice but to hike the prices of books to make at least a small profit.”

Sara Issa, visitor, said the books are not affordable to everyone, which is unexpected. She bought a book of fiction for Dh200 this time, while the same book cost only Dh100 last year. The books must be affordable to all to encourage people to take up reading, but with the current high prices, not many would be able to buy them, she said.

Mohamed Khalid, student at Ajman University, said the important books which are in demand among students are more expensive. “We need a big budget to own such important books.”

Mohammed Al Kabbi, another visitor to the fair, said he liked the variety of books available this time and the sections on cookery, children, culture, history and foreign books, but he was also let down by the high prices. He said the aim of such exhibitions must be to provide readers the opportunity to buy books at reasonable prices.

The Dar A Saghi Publishing house attributed the price rise to higher costs of shipping, storing, copyrights and renting stalls.

Dar Al Alalamiah publishing house based in Egypt said they are selling the books at slightly higher prices than in Egypt because of the increase in shipping and stall rent costs. These reasons have forced some publishing houses to hike the prices by as much as 50 per cent from last year.

An official of the book fair organiser, however, disagreed. He said the storage space for books is provided free to publishers and the rent prices of stalls remain the same.

He admitted that the shipping cost has increased from $8 last year to $14 for one box of books. “We realise that some publishers have hiked the prices irrationally, but they will lose out because people cannot afford those books,” he added.

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