Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On books and book prices

Yesterday while browsing Al Jazeera I came across this news piece Abu Dhabi sells books for 1 Dirham in celebration of World Book Day the link is in Arabic and I couldn't find the same news on the Al-Jazeera English site or other English news sites. The piece mentioned that this has been an annual event in Abu Dhabi for the last 3 years and it's a great success. I can see why it's a success! A book for 1 Dirham or $0.27 can't get a much better deal than that. While I was in Jordan last month I went to a couple of bookshops and I was really turned off by the prices, I'm talking about current English books such as those you'd find on the New York Times best seller list. Books were typically priced about +5 that of their price in the US, so a $20 book here in the US was priced at 25JD's. Taking into account that 25 Dinars is the equivalent of $35, that comes out to be 40% higher than in the US! Add the fact that the income levels in Jordan are on average much lower than those in the US you come to the realization that it costs an arm and a leg to buy a book in Jordan and only the well-off minority would be able to afford the luxury that is books which is truly a shame. Do these prices reflect actual cost to the booksellers? Or are they just being greedy? Now mind you that Arabic books are, thank God, much cheaper and typically cost less than 5JD, but these prices are depriving the great majority of a whole different perspective they could gain from "Books from the West". On another note, I couldn't find anything that says today is Book Day, first thing I did is check to see if Google had a special logo :) in fact the United Nations lists April 23 as World Book and Copyright Day.

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