Art And Culture

Rain Adds to Plight of Book Exhibition

Sports, Art & Culture Desks
This year, 100 more publishers of children’s books have been added to the fair. They are all new publications and have at least 40 printed titles
The rain caused many publishers at the foreign and children’s section to close their pavilions.The rain caused many publishers at the foreign and children’s section to close their pavilions.
The size of the pavilions depends on the number of printed books by a publication, especially newly-published titles, but their content and quality does not count

Heavy rainfall at Shahr-e-Aftab (Sun City) Complex on the third evening of the 30th Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF) on Friday, May 5, created havoc at the foreign and children publishers sections housed in eight huge tents.

Shahr-e-Aftab, located 20 kilometers in south Tehran next to the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum, is hosting the TIBF for the second year, but it seems the organizers have not learned a lesson from last year’s bitter experience when even a lighter shower was capable of disrupting the annual event.

The fresh spring air and the pretty colorful green space at the vast open site of the complex saw a large number of book fans visiting the fair on the weekend. But rain played spoilsport.

The drizzle started at 5 pm. At the time, Financial Tribune reporter was visiting the foreign publishers section to meet some top publication managers. However, minutes later the downpour intensified and the tents could no longer hold back the rainwater. Soon they started to leak from different spots forming puddles of water underneath.

In no time staff were seen running around trying to cover the books with large plastic sheeting, tarpaulin and thick cardboard. Many publishers had no choice but to close their pavilions at a time when sales were reaching a peak. In such unfavorable and visibly unacceptable circumstances no manager was in a mood to talk or give an interview.

As the rain continued to pour heavily, many visitors were forced to stay inside the tents, unable to step outside for fear of getting soaked.

Running through the downpour, this reporter reached the children’s tents, always crowded with kids, teenagers, young adults and their parents, but this time they were packed for a different reason since everybody was taking shelter from the heavy rainfall.

There too some pavilions were damaged and pools of water were seen at some spots. Further, due to the risk of short circuit, the electricity was cut off, resulting in a dim damp space inside the overcrowded tents.

  Unfair Distribution

This year, 100 more publishers of children’s books have been added to the fair. They are all new publications and have at least 40 printed titles.

Darkoob Books, affiliated to the Dona-e-Eqtesad Publications (owner of Financial Tribune), is participating in the TIBF for the first time in a separate pavilion. During the past four years, since its founding, their books were presented at Donya-e-Eqtesad pavilion in the General Publishers section.

Speaking to the Tribune, Sahel Akhtari who represents the publication, and has attended the fair for the past four years, enumerated a series of shortcomings at this year’s edition.

While she was quite satisfied with sales in the first three days, she said, “One of the biggest restrictions is the arrangement of the pavilions in the halls. It is simply not fair,” she said.

As she recalled, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance categorizes publishers based on their activities, number of printed books and publishing permits. The size of the pavilions also depends on the same factors; for instance, the more newly-published titles a publications has, the bigger its pavilion would be.

“Dona-e-Eqtesad is among the few publishers which has had over 60 new titles since last year but our pavilion is no larger than it was then. As a private sector publisher, we expect the ministry’s support which has not been given,” Akhtari complained

At the opening of the fair on May 2, Culture Minister Seyyed Reza Salehi Amiri boasted that at this year’s event most of the administrative affairs have been handed over to the guilds. One of the assigned tasks was providing the publishers with space according to their needs. This has been done by the Tehran Booksellers and Publishers Association; yet it seems, they have not distributed the space in a fair manner.

“The content of the books does not count and it is just the quantity that matters. There are publishers with a hundred titles of very low quality, all about 10-pages, which are mostly rewritings of previously-published books. But because they have more books, they have been given a bigger pavilion. There are even publishers with the same number of books like us that have a bigger pavilion. We just wonder why and when we raise the issue or complain about other problems, they say ‘that’s the way it is’ or give other lame excuses,” Akhtari rued.

Although it was earlier said that the working hours of the book fair would be extended for one hour until 9 pm on Friday, the publishers were told before 7 pm to close and leave. Under the conditions there was no time to meet more publishers and seek their views about this year’s fair.

The 30th TIBF will run through May 13 from 10 am to 8 pm.


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