TEHRAN, Iran — More than a million books were sold by mail order during the Tehran International Book Fair, held online Jan. 20-29. The Iran Book News Agency reported that 1,732 Iranian publishers took part. Some 180 foreign publishers also participated, selling more than 20,000 books. Initially scheduled for six days, the unexpectedly high demand led organizers to extend it twice, for a total of 10 days in all.
Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and other agencies, the online event was the first nationwide book fair here since the 33rd annual fair, set for May 2020 at the huge Mosalla mosque complex, was canceled due to COVID-19. Iranian publishers sold books at a 20% discount, and foreign publishers at 50%. Publishers prepared shipments, which were delivered by the post office at no cost.
Pathfinder Books London, which distributes books by revolutionary leaders, and Iranian publisher Talaye Porsoo, which translates Pathfinder titles into Farsi, Iran’s official language, both participated.
Talaye Porsoo sold 218 books. Among its top sellers was Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism by Jack Barnes, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. Talaye Porsoo sold 23 books on the Cuban Revolution, 27 on women’s emancipation, 55 copies of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and a number of other titles by SWP leaders. Forty Pathfinder books in English were sold.
The geographic spread of those who got Pathfinder titles in Farsi or English was notable. Orders came from large cities and rural villages across Iran, including in predominantly Kurdish and Azerbaijani areas. Books were shipped to buyers in Tehran, Ahwaz, Yazd, Rafsanjan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Sanandaj, Qazvin, Mianeh and Jajarom.
After the book fair one professor at an Iranian university informed the publisher that he has placed the Talaye Porsoo translation of Pathfinder’s book Women’s Liberation and the African Freedom Struggle, by Thomas Sankara, on the reading list for his students.