Sunday, July 10, 2016

Why is the Iranian government opening the world’s biggest bookstore?

Holly Dagres an Iranian-American writer and analyst on Middle Eastern affairs, focusing on Iran. Her writing has appeared in Al Jazeera, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post, among others. She lives in Egypt. 

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At the Tehran Book Fair. Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty
There is a conundrum facing Iranian officials. The government, on the one hand, wants Iranians to read more. At the same time, with the other hand, it wants to cover their eyes.
Love of the written word is deeply rooted in Iranian society, due to its extraordinary history of arts, sciences and literature. However, Iranians aren’t reading enough. Bookstores in Iran are a rarity, with some 1,500 shops for a population of almost 80 million. There was a time when publishers gave books a print run of 3,300-5,500 copies. Now, the numbers have dropped drastically to 500, sometimes even 300 copies.
That’s why the Iranian government recently announced it would be opening the largest bookstore in the world – by square footage – during the coming months. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this title was held by the Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York City, which covered 154,250ft². Unfortunately, the 5th Avenue flagship store closed down in 2014. MORE

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