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Al Monitor: Egypt's large secondhand book market delivers bargains

The market of Soor al-Azbakeya, located near a public garden that carries the same name, is one of the most famous secondhand book markets in Egypt.
29.08.18 | Interesting article at Al Monitor

Some 130 bookstalls form a winding maze that hides the cheapest bargains and rare antique books at al-Sadd street, in Cairo’s al-Sayeda Zainab neighborhood. Located 200 meters (656 feet) from the Attaba metro station, the wooden stalls give off the distinct smell of old paper and dust.

The market of Soor al-Azbakeya, located near a public garden that carries the same name, is one of the most famous secondhand book markets in Egypt.

Young and old, rich and poor rub shoulders in front of the bookstalls — the clientele includes young students, elderly people with a passion for old books, modest buyers who think twice before purchasing one book or extravagant customers who walk off with a dozen, some in rare editions. Low-income families visit the market to buy extracurricular textbooks to help their children improve educational and academic performance. The largest and most regular group is students, teachers and researchers who dig into old books and documents in search of a special topic — most of them are well-known among the vendors.

The greatest advantage of the market is its low costs. According to the reports in the local media, the price of raw materials for printing has generally risen by 100% and even 150% since 2016. This means that the price of books has doubled in Egypt over the last two years. But prices at Soor al-Azbakeya have remained mostly unchanged over time.