Egyptian Christian Publishing at Cairo’s 54th International Book Fair

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Sat, 2023-01-28
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Dialogue Across Borders is very pleased to publish this newsletter about Cairo’s 54th International Book Fair from Lara Gibson. Lara studied Arabic language and literature at Durham University in the United Kingdom and was an intern with the Center for Arab-West Understanding in 2018. A revised version of her undergraduate thesis on Sufi conceptions of love in the poetry of Ibn al-Fārīḍ (d.1234) was recently published by Dialogue Across Borders. She is presently working with us on a larger research project about Christian publishing in Egypt.


Matthew Anderson

Executive Editor

Dialogue Across Borders


January 28, 2023


Cairo’s 54th International Book Fair kicked off on Wednesday, January 25th, and has already attracted hundreds of thousands of Egyptians. The 2023 edition of the Middle East’s largest and oldest book fair features 1,047 publishing houses from 53 countries and is expected to draw around 2 million visitors during its two-week run. The book fair closes on February 6th.


The book fair takes place at the Egypt International Exhibition Center, which is located just outside of the part of the city known as New Cairo, west of the city center. The center boasts around 40,300 m2 of exhibition space across four massive halls and when I visited every hall was packed full of books and tens of thousands of visitors.


While visiting the fair yesterday (January 26th), I was struck by the breadth of Christian publishers at the fair. Around 20 Christian publishers representing most of Egypt’s denominations were there in force and most publishing houses I interacted with enthusiastically spoke of new publications and future projects.

Attendees browse in one of the large halls at Cairo’s 54th International Book Fair


Several industry experts informed me that the majority of Christian publishers are releasing books dealing with counseling, Christian education, theology in the 21st Century and leadership in the Church written by both Egyptian and international authors. The range and depth illustrate the interest in Christian theology in Egypt and demand for insightful texts examining Christian issues in modern times.


Interestingly, they also explained that independent publishers such as Risālatnā are not shying away from publishing literature which critically evaluates aspects of the Christian tradition. They added that as long as the Christian publisher has a license from the Ministry of Culture, they do not encounter any censorship and are able to tackle topics some may deem controversial in an attempt to provide answers to difficult questions.


Christian publishers in attendance ranged from large multi-denomination houses including The Bible Society of Egypt (Dār al-Kitāb al-Muqaddas) to smaller individual churches who publish a handful of books. Most Christian publishers in Egypt are financially supported by either an individual Church or a religious organization, which allows them to sell books at an accessible price to readers.


Across the entire fair, books seemed rather expensive as they are generally imported and prices significantly impacted by the currency crisis. The Egyptian Pound (EGP) has lost half of its value in less than a year, reaching record levels of 32 EGP to the euro at the time of writing, from 17 EGP to the euro one year ago, which means that imported books cost twice as much in EGP as they would have last year. Christian publishers based in Egypt escape this impact, which means they can continue selling books at competitive prices to a wider audience.


Despite the ongoing economic crunch in Egypt, the fair was packed with families, students and bibliophiles browsing books across hundreds of publishing house stalls. It was difficult to navigate at times due to the sheer size and number of publishers present, but it was certainly clear that both Egyptian Christian publishing and the wider Egyptian publishing scene is alive and thriving.



Warmest wishes from Cairo’s book fair,

Lara Gibson