Sharjah: Due to the decrease in demand for books and high cost of production facing the publishing industry, many publishing houses participating at the Sharjah International Book Fair will be selling their books at a slight increase in prices in comparison with last year.

Featuring 1,010 exhibitors from 53 countries, publishing houses at the SIBF highlighted high costs of production and the decrease in demand for books as some of the challenges facing authors and publishers around the world.

Fadwa Bustani from Al Bustani Publishing House in Egypt told Gulf News that the unstable economic situation and the lack of interest in books among children are some of the main challenges facing publishers. Fadwa pointed out the need for parents to instil the culture of reading in their children from a young age through books. “If mothers don’t read at home, then children will never be attracted to the idea of reading or books especially with all the other temptations around them such as ipads, TV and so on,” she said. The prices of the old books at her stand were not increased this year, said Fadwa, adding that new books are being sold at slightly higher prices due to the high cost of publishing. She said that despite the small increase, books being sold at the fair remain 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than books sold at book stores.

Tahir Ali from Children Publication Pakistan in Karachi who is participating in the fair for the fourth time referred to the rapid development of the digital world as a major threat to the printed word. “The new technology like ipods, apps, online programs are challenging publishers which is why they keep their books moderately priced,” said Ali. He added that this year, the increase in prices is close to nothing but will help publishers as the cost of production has increased. “The increase is around two to three per cent, and the prices are still 20 per cent less than the market,” confirmed Ali.

Another participant at the fair, Idrees Miers from Black Stone and Holly World publishing house from the UK, said he has been participating at the fair for five years and will not be increasing the prices of his books at all. Selling books about Islam and the Muslim world, Miers said that the books come from countries all around the world and include some second-hand books as well as rare out-of-print books which are not found in the UAE. “These books are not found in the UAE and if they are found would be very expensive,” added Miers.

Addressing the public’s concern about the slight increase at the SIBF press conference earlier this month, Ahmad Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Director of SIBF, confirmed that book prices at the fair will still be 25 per cent under the market price. He also underlined the importance of schools’ participation at the fair, and the event aims to deliver the message of instilling and encouraging the love of reading among children.

The book fair which will run until November 16 at the Expo Centre Sharjah, will include books in more than 180 languages covering literature, science, knowledge, culture and philosophy. The fair is open from 10am to 10pm daily with free admission.