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.
Over 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.