Old papers and magazines steal the show at the Cairo Book Fair
During the 48th Cairo Book Fair which was ran from 27 January till 11 February, and in which 670 publishers took part, competition to all these publishers came from entirely unexpected quarters. This was the second-hand book section that included stands for 119 book-dealers from the famous second-hand Cairo book market Sour al-Azbakiya (al-Azbakiya Wall).
On what looked very much like an old clothes line, the vendor Mahmoud Sadeq hung a collection of old newspapers and magazines. Their headlines turned heads, since they read as an open book of Egypt’s modern history. The papers documented: Opening of Suez Canal ; King Fouad passes away ; Egypt’s King Farouk: the  Revolution [which abolished the monarchy in Egypt and turned the country into a republic]; King Farouk: a dramatic departure from power ; Egypt is pronounced a Republic State ; the October War ; and President Anwar al-Sadat assassination [October 1981]; and countless other events.
Watani talked to the vendor, 32-year-old Mahmoud Sadeq.
“I have always taken part in the annual Cairo book fair for more than 13 years now,” Sadeq said “I inherited this profession of selling papers and magazines from my grandfather, who owned a printshop, and my father who worked there. I grew up to realise the value of newspapers. I already have a stall at Azbakiya Wall in Downtown Cairo, where I keep a large number of old newspapers. The oldest back to 1876 when the first issue of al-Ahram was published in Alexandria as weekly. Two months later the paper turned into a daily and, throughout the years grew to be Egypt’s topmost daily paper.
“I have also a great number of other little-known papers such as Kawkab al-Sharq and al-Yaqatha,” Sadeq said. “These are very rare and difficult to find now, but there are readers who ask for them and need them. They are not only fans of old publications, but students and scholars in the fields of history or media.
“Papers or magazines have to be covered to protect against dust, air, and insects. I buy special material to use inside plastic wrapping to preserve them well,” Sadeq concluded.
“Is there anything you won’t sell?” Watani asked. “There are some very rare issues which I consider ‘commemorative’ and won’t sell them at any price. I closely guard them and treasure them as heritage.”
15 February 2017