Books on Credit

The January 26th issue of the Daily Telegraph has an article by Chris Price which says much about the times the world is in.

“Egyptians have resorted to taking out loans to buy books as inflation surges in the country. Book prices have more than doubled as the value of the Egyptian pound plummeted by about 43% against sterling over the last year.

Authors have even reportedly begun cutting out characters and descriptions as the cost of paper and ink soars, with inflation hitting a five-year high of 21.3% in December, according to statistics agency Capmas.

Mohammed el-Baaly, of Sefsafa Publishing House, told the BBC: “A book has become a luxury item here in Egypt. It’s not a basic commodity like food and people are saving on luxuries.”

Keen readers now reportedly can spread the cost of a book over nine month at 1.5% interest, according to the Egyptian Publishers Association.

Teen fiction author Dina Afifi told the BBC she hoped the scheme would bolster sales. She said, ‘My book’s been downsized, slimmed down to just 60 pages from around 100, because of the rising printing costs.’

Mr Baaly added: ‘The cost of paper and ink has gone up tremendously. The cost of a ton of paper is nearly four times higher than the start of last year.'”

The interest rate of 1.5% quoted in the article must be a monthly rate which would be equivalent to about 20% per year.

The Guardian, in an article dated last October said; “The price of books is likely to go up, say publishers – which are acting to avoid steep rises for readers.

Some presses are exploring printing on cheaper and thinner paper, postponing reprints for older books and publishing fewer titles to reduce costs and avoid increasing recommended retail prices.

But the hike in costs of paper and energy and the effects of Brexit mean price rises are likely in the long term if not in the short and medium term, “if the current high production and distribution costs stabilise at the current levels”, said Juliet Mabey, co-founder of the independent publishing house Oneworld

Valerie Brandes, founder and publisher of Jacaranda Books Arts Music, said it was highly likely that book prices for consumers would have to increase “across all formats” by 10 to 20%.”

So, we’re fortunate not to be buying our books in Egypt!

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