Domestic Economy
0

New Chapter in Iran’s Publishing Industry

Domestic Economy Desk
Iran’s publishing industry is witnessing fundamental changes, with the introduction of new technologies. The purchase and use of these technologies have raised the costs for publishers, leading to higher publishing cost and book prices
Book prices and cultural works in general are cheaper in Iran than in other countries.Book prices and cultural works in general are cheaper in Iran than in other countries.

Iran’s publishing industry is witnessing fundamental changes, with the introduction of new technologies.

This was announced by Mostafa Moghassemi, sales manager of Hoopa Publications—a successful publisher for children and young adults.

In an interview with Financial Tribune at the 30th Tehran International Book Fair last week, Moghassemi shared his views on the reasons behind the rising prices and ongoing issues in Iran’s book and publishing industry.

The current book fair opened at the new Shahr-e-Aftab (Sun City) complex in south Tehran on May 3 and will run through May 13.

According to the Book House Institute, the average book price in the last Iranian year (March 2016-17) increased by 13% year-on-year, going up from 140,000 rials ($3.7) to 158,440 rials ($4.2).

During this period, about 14,011 books, including 2,255 for children and young adults, and 9,497 general books, were published.

Most of the publications took place in Tehran, accounting for 77.11% of the total sum. The provinces of Khorasan Razavi and Qom followed, Mehr News Agency reported.

Moghassemi noted that the purchase and use of these technologies have raised the costs for publishers, leading to higher publishing cost and book prices.

Nonetheless, he believes that book prices and cultural works in general are cheaper in Iran than in other countries.

“Considering the difficult economic situation facing Iranians, they inevitably have grown very choosy about what to buy,” he said.

“This is while Iranian publications have been trying to improve the quality of their products in recent years, using skilled authors, translators, illustrators and cover designers, which in turn needs more investment and ultimately results in higher expenses.”

Speaking of rising prices, it is noteworthy that despite government efforts to rein in Iran’s double-digit inflation, the rate is still relatively high, meaning all producers need to raise their prices in line with the higher costs.

Iran’s inflation rate went below 10% for the rolling year ending June 20. This was the first time the country was experiencing single-digit inflation in about a quarter century.

According to the Central Bank of Iran’s latest report, the average goods and services Consumer Price Index for urban areas in the 12 months ending April 20, which marks the end of the first Iranian month of Farvardin, increased by 9.5% compared with last year’s corresponding period.

  Hit by Sanctions

Over the past years, international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program also hit Iranian publishers, as quality paper became costlier with the tightening of import channels.

This was largely because Iran has always relied on imports to meet the domestic publishing industry’s demand for paper.

According to the Association of Paper and Paperboard Sellers, domestic production of paper can only meet 25% of the country’s requirements due to its low quality.

After the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, which led to the removal of sanctions, the situation improved to some extent but amid lingering issues surrounding Iran’s international banking relations, it is still difficult to work out transactions with many countries, especially those in Europe, when it comes to paper procurement.

“These issues have made the paper market in our country unstable,” Moghassemi said.

According to Mahmoud Reza Barazesh, an official with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, 130,000 tons of paper were imported in the fiscal March 2015-16. He puts domestic paper consumption at 1.5-2 million tons annually.

 Focus on Reading Culture

Moghassemi said that although people’s low purchasing power in recent years has had an undeniable role in plunging many Iranian industries into recession, this is not the case with the publishing industry.  

He pointed out that many Iranians tend to spend a lot on things other than books, as there’s a general lack of reading culture in the country.

In another interview we had late last year, Farzad Farbod, the head of Parian Publications, said lack of reading culture and poor efforts by state cultural organizations to address this issue are to blame for the abysmal state of the Iranian publishing industry.

Noting that print runs of as low as 1,000 make the prices of books published in Iran much higher than those in other countries, Farbod said, “In our country, books might wait for years before getting sold, which means publishers also have to wait for years to recoup their investment. As a result, the prices of re-printed books go up, at times 50% higher than the first edition.”

 

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints

Financialtribune.com