Decisions, decisions, decisions. With a scarcely believable 1.6 million titles on sale at the Sharjah International Book Fair, there is so much choice, it can feel a little overwhelming at times. But what better headache to have?
Stick with it because there are some excellent deals to be had here, with many of the booksellers offering the kinds of discounts you simply don’t see in the shops. Here are five bookstands to visit at SIBF for those of you with shelves – and minds – to fill.
Borders Book Stores (Hall 5 and 6, booth M21)
There is only one place to start and that is Borders Book Stores. The tables and shelves, stacked high with books, stretch far off into the distance. You could easily spend a very happy hour at this booth alone.
Amazingly, there is a flat 40 per cent discount on every single book, from paperback classics, right through to the latest hardback fiction and non-fiction releases. Let me just repeat that: 40 per cent. If your maths is as bad as mine, that’s nearly half-price. On everything.
Bookpoint and Hachette (Hall 6, booth N20)
For the discerning bibliophile, Bookpoint and Hachette have set up a booth devoted entirely to the classics. You know, the novels you always say you’re going to read and never do? Well, this is your chance to put that right.
Okay, so the Wordsworth Classics paperbacks are pretty flimsy and the text is often too small but at 20 dirhams a pop, it’s hard to grumble. Jane Austen, Henry James, Virginia Woolf – they’re all here and many, many more besides.
There is also an impressive selection of “Collected Works” including, among others, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. And, for the masochists among you, James Joyce.
PanWorld Education (Hall 6, booth O1)
I have never been quite sure why, but educational books – textbooks, manuals, anthologies, that sort of thing – are always eye-wateringly expensive. Fortunately, PanWorld Education are offering 25 per cent off all their books at SIBF.
There is a strikingly wide selection, too, covering everything from business and IT to medicine and psychology. So if you’re off to university or hoping to learn a new skill, you could do a lot worse than to pick up all your reading material here.
Magrudy Enterprises (Hall 7, booth ZB19)
You have to dig a bit harder to find the deals at Magrudy Enterprises, as the same discounts do not apply to all the books. But it’s still worth a trip if you’re after those real bargain basement deals.
There is one shelf where everything is either five or 10 dirhams – and it’s not just rubbish, either. Novels by authors such as John Banville (Booker Prize-winner, no less) and Susan Hill can be found there. It’s a scandal, really.
Smart Books for Publishing and Distribution (Hall 6, L28)
On my travels round SIBF, I didn't see many stalls with a better selection of children's books than Smart Books for Publishing and Distribution. Bestsellers such as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Dork Diaries can all be found, alongside some less well-known but equally worthy titles. There is also an extensive range of colouring books and arts and crafts manuals for younger children. Did I mention the discount? 25 per cent off everything.
The Sharjah International Book Fair runs until November 10. For more, visit www.sibf.com