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Jafar al Okily
Amman’s Azbakeyah, also known as ‘Maktabat Khizanat Al Kotob’ (Bookcase Library) has slapped an accusation on the Jordanian Publishers Union for trying to mar their World Book Day celebrations.
The Azbakeyah issued a statement to readers expressing deep regret about not being able to gather them for this six-day annual celebration, which they have been hosting at the Ras Al Ain Hangar, a subsidiary of the Greater Amman Municipality, for the past six years.
The reason as per Azbakeyah’s statement is that the Union of Jordanian Publishers prohibited them from commemorating the day. In response, the Jordanian Publishers Union has said that the celebration was stopped in an unfair manner.
“Our arduous attempts aimed to convince the Union of Jordanian Publishers not to deny readers this celebration, which took tremendous efforts to prepare, and at a time when we need to promote reading and books more than ever. Nonetheless, the Union did not allow this cultural celebration to take place, and makes a big dent in our efforts to enrich people’s lives through the provision of knowledge and books.”
The Azbakeyah noted that the directives of the Union of Jordanian Publishers in its agreement with the Greater Amman Municipality “are strict on organising and celebrating book fairs and confine it to specific publishers”. The Azbakeyah sees this as “weirdly surprising and unusual”, coming from an entity dedicated to promoting the book.
The Azbakeyah and other reading initiatives in Amman have strived continually to attract more readers. Such initiatives have offered people access to books without having to fear high prices – as a prized commodity only a specific group of affluent people can access at bookstores or fairs that are hosted once every two to three years.
The Azbakeyah has said that it tried to execute several possible solution plans and convince the union to authorise the celebration, but the union “insisted on its unjust decision”, and started “preparing an exhibition or a fair like its previous ones,” proposing to grant the Azbakeyah only one pavilion.
The Azbakeyah called on the Union of Jordanian Publishers to reverse its decision and demanded it to be “in favour of promoting and highlighting the pivotal role of books, especially in that the union’s role is to organise, not to take decisions on refusal and prevention of organising book fairs and initiatives that encourage people to buy and read books”.