Art And Culture

Vagaries of the Book Market

Vagaries of the Book MarketVagaries of the Book Market

Despite the review of a book before its release, "various unpredictable factors contribute to its marketability," says Yousef Alikhani, manager of Aamout publishing house in Tehran.

Established in 2008, the company began work with the publication of books in Iranian studies and literary fiction. Two years later it shifted focus to novels, both by Iranian and foreign writers.

At the 27th Tehran International Book Fair in 2014, Aamout was selected Publisher of the Year for 2013, and received a commendation plaque in the presence of President Hassan Rouhani, for its achievements as well as active participation at provincial expos and encouragement of new writers.

Alikhani, 42, is a writer himself. Among his works is 'Majoun-e Eshq' (Love Potion), a collection of his interviews with other Iranian writers. 

"When my work was under publication, many people, including some experienced publishers, told me it would sell and be republished several times in a matter of a few months. But it's nearly nine years now and the first edition is yet to be fully sold. Part of it remains in the warehouse," Alikhani told Azad News Agency (ANA).

Aamout has brought out four books by British novelist and journalist Jojo Moyes, 48. "The first of the four, 'Me Before You,' written in 2012, has reached the 35th edition. The question is why other (Iranian) publishers who have translated and published her books, failed to reach several editions?"

Alikhani referred to 2016 British-American film 'Me Before You' adapted by Moyes and directed by English theater and film director Thea Sharrock, 41, as one of the contributing factors to the popularity of the book, which was released in Iran seven months before the movie.

He noted the vagaries of the book market. "There are no fixed criteria. At one time the market was avariciously demanding books like 'Drunkard Morning' (written by Iranian novelist Fattaneh Haj Seyed Javadi and originally published in 1995). Can such books become best-seller again today? Book taste changes each day. Publishing cannot be a pre-defined modus operandi."

To a question whether circulation of a book can be established after getting feedback, Alikhani said it was not possible. 

"As a publisher, I should not publish 20,000 copies of a book in one edition. The price of a book is not allowed to be changed for a period of three years. The price on the cover of a released book too cannot be changed. Such an attempt can lead to bankruptcy of the publisher."

Once again, Alikhani emphasized the unpredictability of the book market. "You will not realize what's going on in the market, unless you step in it, set up your pavilion in book fairs and be exposed to market trends and elements. Take my case for example. Before I entered the publishing industry, I did not realize that short story anthologies cannot be successful in the book market." 

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