Rare, expensive books have been pulling in the crowds at 11-day Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), which ends on November 11 at Expo Centre Sharjah.
The Antiquariat Inlibris pavilion, for example, is displaying a book priced at €950,000 (over Dh4 million). Hugo Wetscherek, the exhibitor at the pavilion, and his son Fabian, 13, are there to answer queries from visitors.
“This is the tenth time that we are bringing the rarest and the most antique books to SIBF. It feels new every time as the visitors are so enthusiastic and have a genuine love for literature. Sharjah is the city of books and it surely lives up to its name,” said Wetscherek.
The Austria-based company is displaying a number of rare books for the first time at SIBF, including ‘Avicenna’ (Ibn Sina, 1562), an early illustrated edition of one of the greatest works on Islamic medicine. It is also showcasing ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica’ by Andreas Vesalius, which is one of the most expensive books on offer at SIBF — priced at €950,000 (over Dh4 million).
Owing to the demand for rare and antiquated books in the region, Antiquariat Inlibris has become the first company to open an office in the newly inaugurated Sharjah Publishing City.
Talking about the relevance of the Middle East in the rare books business, Wetscherek said: “There is so much that the Middle East has given to the world, especially when we talk about literature. A lot of books trace their roots to the Arab world and hence it is an important market for us.”
Last year, Antiquariat Inlibris brought the first printed edition of the Quran to SIBF, along with two of the oldest printed books in Arabic.
With over 1.5 million titles on display and the participation of 1,650 publishing houses from 60 countries, SIBF 2017 is an 11-day celebration of literature, knowledge and culture.