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Tehran Book Fair Dogged by Restrictions

21 May 2011 21:41Comments

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[ spotlight ] Despite strict censorship and bans imposed before and even after new books come out, Iran's publishing industry continues to survive, if not exactly thrive.

More than 400,000 titles from 2,300 Iranian and 1,600 foreign publishing houses were on display at the annual Tehran International Book Fair, held from May 4 to 14.

The fair is an important event for the publishing industry in Iran. With average print-runs of just 3,000 and little chance of reprinting -- aside from the most popular titles, religious works and volumes of classical Persian poetry -- publishers find it hard to turn a profit.

A government study last year suggested that the average Iranian is an infrequent reader, spending just 18 minutes a day reading books other than religious and educational material.

Although "undesirable" books are normally weeded out before they ever get into print, there are frequent cases where books are removed from display at the Tehran fair even though they have been approved for publication. Four days into this year's event, for example, works by leading novelist Ali Ashraf Darvishian and several dissident writers were ordered off the shelves.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei presents his scarf to an elated stand-holder at the Tehran book fair. His discussions with writers and publishers here often reveal his views on cultural issues (Photo: Supreme Leader website); Schoolgirls leaf through one of the many books on display. (Photo: A. Salmanzadeh/Mehr News Agency); Books on the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s are common at the exhibition. This one has a military-themed cover. (Photo: Mehdi Marizad/Fars News Agency); On the fringes of the book fair, extremist groups stage small gatherings to complain that female visitors are not wearing proper Islamic dress. (Photo: Hussein Salhyara/Fars News Agency). Click here for more photos.

Copyright © 2011 Mianeh

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