By Layan Damanhouri
RIYADH – Books written by social media activists and self-proclaimed writers were displayed prominently by various local publishing houses in their booths at the Riyadh International Book Fair. The publishers claimed that the books were widely popular.
“Many of these books contain texts that do not have any meaning or value,” said university student Reem Alsaeed. “What’s more, their writing skills are noticeably poor.”
In addition to shelves filled with novels by new authors, a particular genre of contemporary non-fiction offered a collection of articles about day-to-day life. “Their authors shift from one topic to another without sticking to any theme or structure. They tell the stories, often overriding copyright regulations,” Alsaeed said.
Brief chapters of trivial information in large print and images fill up pages of such books that the publishers deem to be popular among a segment of the population, she added. “The content of many of these books is shallow, almost like a collection of tweets,” said 20-year-old Shurooq Hashim, leading member of a book club that participated in the book fair. “When I feel I can write the same, I don’t think it deserves to be published. These books are written by people who want to market themselves. When they put their portraits on the front cover, it’s obvious they want to seek fame.”
Lama Alosaimi, a volunteer who promoted classical Arabic language at the fair, noted: “Anyone can write what these people have written. The vocabulary they used is mediocre and close to dialect.”