More Salon du Livre News

The Lit Saloon has an interesting link this morning to Al-Bayane, where some depressing statistics are given on Moroccan publishing: Fewer than 3,000 books have been published between 2002 and 2004 in Morocco; most of these books have a small print run of under 2,000 copies; and the author is often called on to bear the cost (hence the expression “a compte d’auteur,” which is sort of midway between self-publishing and vanity publishing.) Read the numbers, and weep.

As distressing as these numbers are, they don’t, of course, offer a complete picture of readership in Morocco, because the vast majority of the books that you’re likely to see in a bookstore at any given time are not printed locally, but, rather, imported, usually from France. Paperbacks from Folio and Poche, in particular, are fairly inexpensive and still affordable for Moroccan readers. (So, next time someone tells you that the Arab world needs to learn “our” values through “our” culture, just tell them Morocco is awash in “our” culture, and really needs more of its own.)

The most distressing of all the statistics in Al Bayane is that only .53% of books published in Morocco appear in the Amazigh language, which is spoken by fully 30% of population. Granted, that 30% is probably fully bilingual (with Arabic) or even trilingual (with French), but there is really no excuse for why such a large part of Moroccan heritage is not sustained through book culture. According to Le Matin, one of the booths at the Salon was devoted to the Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture, but, even there, many of the offerings about Amazigh culture were available in other languages.