The Cairo Book Fair, once a major event in the Egyptian publishing calendar, is still trying to reclaim some of its past importance.
The fair, which was cancelled in 2011 because of the 25 January revolution, now has to compete with two other book fairs in the region, in Sharjah in November and in Abu Dhabi in April.
The fairground in Nasr City and the general organisation of the fair also need upgrading. A new location is in the making, but meanwhile the Egyptian Publishers Association is working on other improvements.
This year Saudi Arabia is the guest of honour and the organisers are also launching a two-day professional programme aimed at personally introducing international publishers and representatives of cultural institutions to the Egyptian market. It is hoped that this one-to-one treatment will create greater understanding of the present situation.
According to the organisers there are 26 participating countries (last year there were 24), about 850 publishers (of which only 50 are neither Egyptian nor Arab). Among the non-Arab countries participating are Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, India and Russia.
The theme this year is Culture and Renovation and the reformist Mohammed Abduh (1849-1905) has been chosen as the fair's symbol. Another of the novelties is the launch of an app (only in Arabic) to provide a map of the fair ground, a calendar of events and a database of many of the books on display.
The website and the Facebook page have not been upgraded and are still only available in Arabic.