Ebooks are nothing new in Iran, but up until now there hasn’t been an ereader capable of handling the Farsi (Persian) script.
That all changed this week when the Iranian ebook retailer Fidibo launched a Farsi-enabled ereader.
The first of the Fidibook series is the Hannah F1, a 6” Android device with an e-ink screen, that retails for the equivalent of $130. It will be sold online and in Book City branches, although at this stage the device is only showing on the Fidibo site and not, yet, Iran’s biggest e-commerce site, Digikala (which is a Fidibo sponsor).
Fidibo’s managing director Majid Qassemi explained that the Fidibook was,
the result of two years of young Iranian technicians and academics to provide an e-book readers for citizens.
According to Qassemi the ebook app has been installed more than two million times and over 50 thousand people read the books through the app every day.
Fidibo offers books in Persian, Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Portuguese.
Earlier this year Fidibo, which launched way back in 2014, began making its ebooks available on the Tehran Metro.
The Fidibo announcement comes as Iran prepares to launch this year’s Tehran International Book Fair, which starts May 1 through 12. Last year $38 million worth of books were sold at the event, which regularly attracts over 2 million visitors.
The Tehran Fair this year will be showcasing 141,000 European and Arabic language books.
As I noted in that post,
There are 56.7 million internet users in Iran, and 47 million of them are using mobile devices to connect.
In a country where publishing costs are pushed up by the need to import paper, there is plenty of opportunity for ebooks to become much more central to the lives of Iranian readers.
Iran has a population of 80 million, comparable to Germany, and while there’s no easy comparison between the two book markets, and government censorship will impact on western aspirations to sell in Iran, the two million turn-out for the book fair, along with the fact that Tehran hosts the largest bookstore in the world –
ought to give publishers outside the country and in food for thought.
For anyone wanting to know more about the Iranian book scene, this post from CultureTrip – 6 Great Bookshops that No One Should Miss While Visiting Tehran – is a great place to start.