“The advantage of the market lies in the high transparency of buying and selling, so the customer comes with full knowledge of the price and content.”
The market now gathers most of Cairo’s booksellers—from Soor el-Azbakeya, the Abu El-Reish district, and from around Cairo University. Prices are determined by factors including rarity, publication date and relation to defining historical moments, as well as the condition of the book or newspaper.
“The advantage of the market lies in the high transparency of buying and selling, so the customer comes with full knowledge of the price and content,” said Sameh Adel, a visitor interested in creating rare archival collections of old magazines and newspapers.
[Enjoying this article? Subscribe to our free newsletter.]
The market opens only on weekends when fewer police officers are around. The scene is vibrant with vendors displaying a variety of antiques and old personal belongings such as watches, silver coins, paintings, old family photo albums, used mobile phones, home phones, alarm clocks, radios, televisions and leather shoes.
And Saturday trading has been busy enough to compensate for the loss of sales on weekdays during the lockdown.
The market has created a vital energy missing since the start of the pandemic in a district that was already disrupted by construction projects. (See a related article, “Arab Publishers Take a Hit From the Covid-19 Crisis.”)
“Cafes and restaurants suffered from a long stagnation and increased isolation as a result of the construction movement in the area to dig a new metro line,” said El-Khachab. The disruptions even “led to the cessation of shows at the Diana Palace Cinema, one of Cairo’s oldest cinemas,” he added. The market “has saved the district and awakened it up from its stagnation,” he said.