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Egypt: Campaign Against Abusive Publishers

A handful of publishers have monopolized the book market in Egypt until a fresher generation of young entrepreneurs introduced readers to new titles by authors who were rejected by the publishing tycoons. Bloggers books took the Cairo International Book Fair by storm last year but most of the books are no where to be found on bookshelves. Amr Khaled's Velo marked the beginning of a new era of unconventional literature but his book has been out of stock for more than a year, and Ahmed Naje's Rogers is an example of controversial fiction that should not go unnoticed – but it did until the Italian Il Sirente turned it into a musical and sold it on CD. Instead of changing the face of Egypt's cultural scene, many publishers cannibalized on aspiring authors.

Egyptian Fe-mail (Marwa Rakha) listed the signs of publisher-author abuse:

If your publisher
1) Makes you pay money to get published (cheap blackmail)
2) Does not consult you when changes are made to your original text
3) Does not consult you when choosing your book cover
4) Does not pick up the phone
5) Does not deliver the book on time
6) Does not distribute your book in the bookstores he promised
7) Does not market you or your book
8) Does not show up with copies on your book signing event
9) Does not send copies to the media
10) Corners you into a 5, 7, 10 year contract

Then he does not know what being a publisher means and you are abused

Taking a stance against abusive publishers, Marwa Rakha made her book, The Poison Tree – planted & grown in Egypt, available online for free download. Then she launched a free publishing service on her website:

Marwa Rakha's Free Publishing Service – Who Needs Publishers When He Has Friends

Yes … send me a PDF file of your book and I will publish it here, promote it on my blog, and send it to my official Facebook group.

In solidarity with their fellow writer, many Egyptian authors sent Marwa their books for online publishing. Mohamed Sami ElBohy (2 books), Bassam El Boghdady's Arabic translation of Richard Dawkins THE GOD DELUSIONUsama El Shazly, Mostafa Hussein, Mohamed Al Arafy (2 books), Ahmed Ramadan, Nashwa Nagy, Tarek Hassan Refaat (2 books), Ayman Shawky (2 books), and Ibrahim El Mahallawy. Two British authors joined the campaign as well; Alex Jenson  and Lynda Renham. Jasmine Madkour, Zeina Medhat (2 books), Adel Shaaban, Mostafa Mohamed, Mohamed Farouk, and Rehab El Melehy who turned their blogs into books and published them online as well.

While many bloggers linked to the initiative on their blogs, Zeinobia shared her experience with the publishing “hell” in Egypt:

Now I am not surprised at what Marwa suffered or is suffering with her publisher at all , this is a normal thing in Egypt , publishing is just a printing for profit job in Egypt nowadays. It seems that most of the publishers are vampires in Egypt and this I am saying from a personal experience.

Without mentioning names after the death of my late grandfather I found out his last book on which he was working and I used to help him in was published without our knowledge , I found out by coincidence  online !!

On the WHO NEEDS PUBLISHERS WHEN HE HAS FRIENDS initiative, Marwa wrote:

The relationship between a writer and a publisher in Egypt has turned into a textbook definition of abusive relationships! I am not out to attack paperback books … I am not undermining their importance … I am just trying to put an end to this farce-in-disguise. When we feel desperate and option-less we compromise. I decided to set an example of “the other options” that writers are not aware of …. who the hell needs a useless publisher who serves as nothing but a lousy print shop when another door opens … I am paving the way hoping that more people will follow. Publishers have no business if writers say NO but writers are scared … just like an abused woman!

2 comments

  • A publisher has only one comittment to his author and that is to get it right? To fully understand ownership of work. To discover work has been published online without consent is a disgrace. Publishers also do not recognise good work when they see it. Authors are dependent on them and the time has come when that should stop. No one should pay to have their book printed. I will be eternally grateful to Marwa for bringing this to the attention and for working so hard.
    May there be more like her.

  • […] using bloggers posts without their permission and editing experts they quote, and the other was a campaign against abusive publishers, where bloggers decided to make their work available online for free download in reply to the abuse […]

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