Muscat: More than 70,000 people visited the the 24th edition of Muscat International Book Fair on the first day.
The entrances to the event were packed on Friday, the second day of the fair, but the convention centre’s multiple entrances made it easy for visitors to move about. According to the organisers, “On the first day, we saw 73,547 visitors.”
An employee at Al Bahj Books stall told Times of Oman, “I saw so many people with bags and luggage bags to be filled with books.”
Many of these visitors already knew the books they wanted to buy in advance. “A lady came and asked for specific books, more than five of them,” the employee said, adding, “She had a big list.”
“People come looking for bestsellers,” he added, “They look for books such as Milkman, Milk and Honey, and Paulo Coelho’s new book, Hippie. They also look for new books by Malayalam authors.”
Yosuf, one of the younger visitors at the fair, spoke to Times of Oman about his interests. “My favorite books are Goosebumps. I like reading them; they’re not that scary,” he said.
Most of the visitors on Friday were Omani. The book fair occupied five halls, but a large section located at the back of halls two and three was specifically set aside for books in the English language, according to fair officials.
An employee at Dar Kredieh from Lebanon said, “We are specialised in distributing English books but also have Arabic ones. Muscat is one of the best venues for us because the readership is quite high, especially among locals. Every year, despite the fact that the book business is going down globally, here, it always gets better. This is the second day, and things have been good so far."
“The crowd is quite good today, especially since it is a Friday, and it’s especially good compared to the first days from last year. Basically, visitors come here after looking through search engines for a specific book. Sometimes we might not have a particular book and try to find alternatives, but since readers are not very flexible about the books they want to read, we try to find the books they want delivered to them after the book fair.”
According to him, finding trends is difficult. “Different people want different books based on their age and interest, but if I had to generalise, I’d say that novels and self-improvement books sell quite well.”
The fair also featured book vending machines, where visitors could pick out a book, insert money, and receive their order in a quick and easy manner. Furthermore, organisers with tablets toured the fair, and they could search for any book on their devices if a visitor had something in mind but did not know where to find it.