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Posted On: 22 December 2011 12:21 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:11 pm

Wrong timing blamed for low turnout at book fair

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Several exhibitors at the 22nd Doha International book fair that ends today believe that sales this year were relatively low. Some exhibitors explained that this was due to the timing of the event. Said an exhibitor: “We’ve experienced low turnout of visitors this year, may be because it has coincided with the Arab Games that attracted people away and put less focus on the fair.” He said that he and some of his colleagues tried to make special offers but still sales were far less than last year. “On the National Day, the number of visitors was very small. This is normal, people are celebrating and the roads were nearly blocked. If the fair had been held at another time of the year, we’d have experienced a better market,” said another exhibitor. However, children’s books and toys occupied a considerable part of the fair. Religious and feature books were also prominent. Around 456 publishing houses representing 24 Arab and foreign countries participated, occupying 747 stalls at the exhibition. E-books and IT programmes besides electronics and related accessories were also on offer. Usually the prices of items were fixed, with some stalls offering discounts and special offers on certain items as the fair approached its end. An expatriate customer said that at some stalls one could get a good bargain. “CDs for example...the starting price for a certain CD was QR45 and the salesman agreed to give it for QR10. I observed that some of them were keen to sell at lower prices for those who buy more, so I found it a good opportunity to buy a collection of CDs and E-books at such low prices,” he pointed out. Rare old books also are available in the event. A UAE-based company was selling out a variety of hard cover old and rare books, the majority of them currently out of print. Some of these date back to more than hundred years and yet are in good condition. The company representative said: “There are special customers who seek these books. The prices range from QR50 to QR6,000 and in special cases even more.” Most of these titles were in Arabic that treat historical and sociological issues such as the history of the Arab tribes and their origins. Antique manuscripts and books were also displayed for sale by an Austrian company. “When the onlooker approaches our stall, he thinks that these are original pieces and some express an interest to pay and possess such antiquities and masterpieces. However, these are only facsimile editions, true-to-original reproductions of ancient and medieval manuscripts. Few appreciate this and only special customers buy,” said Paul Struzl, general manager of the company. He further explained that original pieces are usually kept in museums and cannot be put on sale. He also said that prices may start from QR3,000. Some rare pieces were sold for euros 300,000 in Europe. “Most customers withdraw when they are informed that it is not original, but we have a very good market in Europe,” he added. The book fair which started on December 12 concludes tonight. Various cultural events and forums have been featured on its sidelines.