Covid restrictions prove boost for small Cairo book market


“The advantage of the market lies in the high transparency of buying and selling, so that the customer is fully aware of the price and the content.

Sameh adel A visitor to the market who collects old magazines and newspapers

The market now brings together most of the booksellers in Cairo, Soor el-Azbakeya, the Abu El-Reish district and the surroundings of Cairo University. Prices are determined by factors such as scarcity, date of publication and relationship to defining historical moments, as well as the condition of the book or journal.

“The advantage of the market is the high transparency of buying and selling, so that the customer is fully aware of the price and the content,” said Sameh Adel, a visitor interested in creating archival collections. rare old magazines and newspapers.

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The market only opens on weekends when fewer police are present. The scene is bustling with vendors displaying a variety of antiques and old personal effects such as watches, silver coins, paintings, old family photo albums, used cell phones, home phones, alarm clocks, radios, televisions and leather shoes.

And Saturday’s trading was busy enough to make up for the lost weekday sales during the lockdown.

The market has created vital energy that has been lacking since the start of the pandemic in a neighborhood already disrupted by construction projects. (See a related article, “Arab publishers hit by Covid-19 crisis.”)

“Cafes and restaurants have suffered from long stagnation and increased isolation due to the construction movement in the area to dig a new metro line,” El-Khachab said. The disruptions even “resulted in the stopping of the shows at the Diana Palace Cinema, one of the oldest cinemas in Cairo, ”he added. The market “saved the neighborhood and woke it up from its stagnation,” he said.

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