NewsPublishingSaudi Arabia (KSA)

Publishing to Cost Dearer in Saudi Arabia

Commercial libraries, publishing houses, and authors in Saudi Arabia have confirmed the high prices of printing and selling books in the Kingdom, post-COVID. The fluctuations are at varying rates, with some of them increasing by almost 45%, foreseeing a decline in printed paper books and a rise in the popularity of e-books. Incidentally foreign publishing houses are expecting this increase to continue during the coming period.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Batyan of the Literature, Publishing & Translation Commission of the Ministry of Culture, indicated that the prices of printing and publishing were affected with the COVID-19 pandemic which saw hike in prices of raw materials, paper, ink, and manpower. “A 100-page book which would normally cost around 3,000 riyals in the pre-COVID days now costs around 5,000 riyals.”

Al-Batyan adds, “Everyone notices this increase when they visit libraries, publishing houses, and printing presses. The same is also true with e-book stores.” His experience as a literary agent and consultant led him to review and audit production. “Because of the differences in colours, pages, and other specifications from measuring pages, types of papers, and number of copies, one may have to dispense with the idea of ​​printing on paper as a result of the high prices.”

“Publishing houses are no longer supportive of the author, with a large percentage of the publishing right belonging to the publishers at the expense of the author,” says Al-Batyan.

On-line bookstore owner Hussein Al-Amir explains that the book is a “commodity” and is subject to market fluctuations. With a rise in prices of raw materials in addition to the costs of shipping supply chains, added to the costs of publishing which was reflected in the hike in book prices.

Sources in a publishing house outside Saudi Arabia confirmed that the increase in book prices was a direct result of the steep hike in paper prices and the cost of freight and transportation globally which affected the market and continues to do so.

The head of the cultural café at the Association of Culture and Arts in Al-Ahsa, Dr. Muhammad Al-Bashir, says, “Traders who benefit from the high prices must be removed from this chain and readers should become smarter by identifying areas for easy book access such as literary clubs, cultural initiatives, and major institutions that can give books to readers at a low price, as well as encouraging e-book reading. Pirated books have become a major problem for book merchants, who in turn want to increase the cost of printed books. Over these couple of years the trend that has emerged sees readers having access to pirated reading materials, lower demand in paper books, and global demand amongst readers for digital books with their lower pricing.”

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