High in Population, Low in Publication

Wahidul Islam

Muslims make up around twenty five percent of the world population are but they merely write eight percent of the total books published in the world every year.

The number of titles published in the UK surpasses the whole Muslim world. Only UK outnumbers 57 countries in the number of titles altogether. Though data from most of the Muslim countries are not available a Wikipedia compilation 38 out of 57 OIC member countries shows that around 168431 books were published in one year, varying in between 1990 to 2013. Whereas the United Kingdom itself, with a population of 80 million, published 184000 titles in 2013. According to a new report from the International Publishers Association (IPA), publication of 2,875 titles per million inhabitants places the UK an astonishing 1,000-plus titles ahead of second-placed Taiwan and Slovenia (1,831). Australia is considerably lower, at 1,176, while the US published just 959 titles per million inhabitants.
It may be noted that predominantly Muslim countries avail the membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation but it doesn’t mean these countries have no non-Muslim population and authors. In the whole world at present there are 160 crore Muslims out 710crore total population. Out of 2200000 total book publications in the world only 168423 books are written in Islamic countries. One out of 13 books are being written by this single religious group which forms around 25% world population.
European-language speaking Muslim world
For the last five hundred years Europe had been dominating the world rather we should say it is dominating the world since the rise of Ottoman Empire with its transfer of capital to European city Istanbul.Europe is home to four Muslim countries out of 57 OICmembers and one of them is Turkey. It is again rising to the world stage shrugging of its sick manhood. With the rise of Turkey its writers are publishing one-third of bookspublished in whole Muslim world. European Muslims spread across Turkey, Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina and Kosovo because once Ottoman Empire extended upto Vienna, the Balkan region including Greece, Macedonia etc.Turkey in 2011 published 43,100 books. European country Albania in 1991 published 381 titles. Kosovoand Bosnia-Herzegovina have been found to have no data on publication on the Internet.

Maghrib States
Once the people from Maghrib States established the world reputed civilization in Spain. Morocco is one of them. It published 918 books in 1996, Tunisian presses produced 720 volumes when Algeria 670 titles. It was Mali which produced 14 books only when data from Mauritania was unavailable. But the country in December 2013 had organised a book fair in the Mauritanian capital as many as 18 Egyptian publishing houses took part in the fair.

Central Asia
Centring the Central Asia heartland theory dictated that one who will control this area will control the world.So over the history world powers have tried to dominate the Central Asia. Among the six Central Asian countries Kazakhstan is the biggest landlocked country which published 1,226 in 1996. Tajikistan in the same year published 132 titles only. Azerbaijan in 1996 found 542 books making way to printing presses when Turkmenistan published 450 volumes in 1994 and Kyrgyzstan produced 420 in 1998. Publishing data were not available from Uzbekistan but its publishing houses participated at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Iran, Afghanistan along with Pakistan are the close neighbours. Once world ruler Mongols came from Central Asia. Iran with its Persian civilization was home to many civilizations. In 2012 it published 53,958 books. The 25th edition of the fair was participated by 2,451 local and 1,620 foreign publishers presenting their latest works. The fair has an estimated 4-5 million visitors over 10 days, making it the world’s largest trade/consumer show in any category. Defying stereotypes of an isolated, threatening, sanctioned country, evidence of change – both superficial and fundamental – is everywhere. Other neighbour of Central Asian countries Pakistan in 2012published 3,811 books. Out of these books 2,943 in Urdu and 868 in English and European languages. Even Russian war ravaged Afghanistan found 2,795 books published in 1990.

Middle East
In 1996 Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Qatar, Palestine, Bahrain, Omanpublished 511, 209, 114,40 and 7 books respectively. Kuwait in 1992published 196, Lebanon in 2005published 3,686, Syria in 2004published 1,138 volumes. Data on total publications from Iraqand Yemen were not available but Erbil International Book Fair was organized by Al-Mada for Media, Culture and Arts. The 29th annual Sana’a International Book Fair opened to crowds eager to see what publishers have to offer them this year. According to the Arab Publishers Union, the book fair in Yemen ranks second in the Arab region, after Cairo’s International Book Fair, in terms of demand, participation and sales.

Asia-Pacific nations like Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam in 2009contributed 24000 and 91 volumes respectively while Malaysia in 2011 contributed 17,923 books. One thing is very special about Indonesia is that in the Frankfurt Book Fair-2015 Indonesia is Guest of Honor Country.

Whereas Africa’s association with printing and literature goes back many centuries – indeed, manyAfrican countries have a long and prolific artistic and literary history – the beginning of publishing inAfrica probably started with the advent of Islam, and by the 17th century various Arabic scripts were incirculation in the main urban and trading centers of the Western Sudan. Data from Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Senegal, Surinam, Benin, Ivory Coast, GuineaGuyana, Sierra Leone were not available. But populous country Egypt in 2000got 9,022 manuscripts making way to press when Tanzania 172 books in 1990made way to their libraries. Nigeria in 1991 marketed 1,314 books.Uganda Gambia and Burkina Faso in 1996 brought 288, 14 and 12 books respectively.
Benin and Libya in 1994 enriched their intellectual property by 84 and 26 books respectively. Ghanaian authors in 1992wrote merely 28 books when information on book publications from other OIC member states like Comoro, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Djibouti were not found.

Book Fairs under Lens
Book fairs are premium occasions for displaying books in the year end of a nation. It shows the total intellectual output of a country with its diaspora in both vernacular and foreign languages. For the last 30 to 40 years, most of the UN-member countries are organising book fairs to create opportunities for the writers and publishers. But the organisers of Frankfurt Book Fair claim that the book fair dates back to five hundred years. Some of them are really international and some are local. Every book fair sets a theme and slogan for it and declares a Guest of Honor Country earlier. Bangladesh can be guest of honor country of any fair like Frankfurt Book Fair. The country can apply as an approach to German Publishers & Booksellers Association and the Frankfurt Book Fair organisers. There then will follow some lengthy discussions to ensure the necessary preconditions are in place. These include an actively growing publishing industry, support for translations, and adequate budget and organisational structures for managing the programme.
The credit of being the biggest book fair in the Islamic world may be claimed by Cairo International Book Fair or Istanbul Book Fair or Tehran International Book Fair. Abu Dhabi International Book Fair may also come up to claim the best berth in the chart. Organized every year by the General Egyptian Book Organization in the last week of January, the Cairo International Book Fair is the biggest and the oldest book fair of the Arab world. The festival, which has entered in its 45th edition in 2014 drawing nearly two million visitors every year. In 2006, it was acclaimed as the world’s second biggest book fair. Some 755 publishers from 24 nations participated in the fair where a specific section was dedicated entirely to children.
There may be debate about the best Islamic book fair. But there is no question of Frankfurt Book Fair being the best on the green planet. Europe’s growth engine Germany is proud to host the biggest fair in the non-Muslim world. The other leading book fairs include London International Book Fair, Kolkata International Book Fair, South America Buenos Aires International Book Fair, New Delhi World Book Fair, Bologna Children’s Book Fair, BookExpo America,Cape Town Book Fair, Tokyo International Book Fair, Hong Kong Book Fair, the Beijing International Book Fair, Moscow International Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, Guadalajara International Book Fairetc which have been bridging the gap between writers, readers, and publishers.

Arabic Book Fairs
Those who write less books compared to their populations are sure to have small book fairs. As a single language Arabic is spoken by highest number of Muslims. Bengali comes next as it is spoken by 2nd highest number of Muslims in the world. Indonesian, Malaysian languages will follow the Arabic and Bengali. A number of fairs are organised in the Arabic-speaking world Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Started in 2007 and organized by KITAB, a collaboration between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is an annual event hosted in the UAE. It is one of the most important book fairs in the Middle East region as Abu Dhabi is increasingly becoming a hub for the publishing industry in the Arabian Gulf region. The Abu Dhabi Book Fair provides a forum where publishers, agents, distributors, and educational organizations can discuss collaboration and business prospects. The 2014 Abu Dhabi Book Fair hosted 1,025 exhibitors from 50 countries and had more than 500,000 titles on display.

Bengali Book Fairs
Bengali book fair is organised in Bangladesh and Indian province Kolkata. Bangla Academy organises Ekushey Boimela or Book Fair on the occasion of International Mother Language Day on 21st February. It starts on 1st February and lasts till the end of the month. Books in vernacular language along are displayed in the fair. As many as 3000 new titles are published every year. Most of them are in Bengali language which is spoken by 250 million Bengalis in Bangladesh and India. Two other book fairs — Dhaka International Book Fair and Islamic Book Fair — are also organised in the capital of Bangladesh. Islamic Book Fair is orchestrated on the precinct of national mosque Baitul Mokarram Mosque with a small number of Islamic publishing companies. It is organised on the occasion of Ramadan. Comparatively Ekushey Book Fair on the Bangla Academy premises near Dhaka University draws a large crowd amid much fanfare. Previously known as the Calcutta Book Fair and now as the International Kolkata Book Fair, it is the world’s largest non-trade book fair, which means it’s a book fair meant primarily for general public and not for wholesale distributors. It is also considered to be the largest book fair in Asia and the book fair which attracts the maximum number of visitors worldwide, with over two million people visiting the fair.

European Language Book Fairs
In Istanbul International Istanbul Book Fair is being organized over 30 years.Kosovo is another Muslim European country which hosts a book fair in its capital Pristina. Bosnia-Herzegovina has been hosting Balkan Anarchist BookFair for over eight years. In 1990s nationalism was used against the exploited classes particularly Muslims in ex-Yugoslavia. Under the theme “Over the Walls of Nationalism” many anarchists and other anti-authoritarians of the Balkans oppose the rise of nationalists and brutal capitalists who attacked against society. Vidimo se uskoro u Mostaru!

Apparently it seems to be a narrow look at the book authoring and book fairs in the Muslim world but it is written only to broaden the outlook of the Muslims. It is revisiting the present scholarly position of the followers of Muhammad (PBUH) among other nations.It is regrettable thatOIC sources failed to provide data sufficiently. Hope Muslims will be grateful to the authors belonging to their fellow beliefs and they will come up to write more books in proportion to the population number. The Muslims will shrug off their awkwardness in book publication by reading more and more and thus contribute to the world of publications.

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