The annual book fair in Riyadh has been a source of controversy in recent years. This year, however, the book fair seems to have gone without any major controversy. Sabria S. Jawhar says this is a good thing:
What we had in Riyadh was a book fair that served as a common event where families can come together without fear or trepidation. Because of the low-key approach of the commission, the book fair became a huge financial success that earned sellers millions in Saudi riyals.
What has emerged from a book fair without distractions was the realization that women were the top buyers of books and spent more money on books than any other demographic. Among Saudis there is a renewed interest in children’s books, which highlights the need to make children and young adult books available to Saudi youths. There was a strong customer base that supported the book fair’s inventory more than 250,000 paperback titles and 1 million e-books.
We as Saudis are not a strong reading culture, but the Internet has changed our tastes in literature. Arab language and English language books have permeated our society to the point that simply buying books from bookstores can’t satisfy the demand. The fact that an estimated 2 million people attended the book fair signals that Saudis are becoming more literate and have a hunger for a greater variety of choices.