Despite Egypt leading Africa in coronavirus fatalities (40 dead as this post goes live) and the second highest rate of infections on the continent (609) it would seem that the annual Alexandria International Book Fair is still on schedule for April 13-23.

While there is some speculation that the real numbers may be higher, there is currently no lockdown in Egypt, although that could change in the coming weeks.

The website says that,

A substantial number of publishing and printing houses from Egypt, the Arab World, and Europe are expected to participate.

It’s a certainty now that there will be no participants from Europe, and very unlikely any from neighbouring Arab states. The position for Egyptian stakeholders may be different, but I suspect many publishers will being having second thoughts, and likewise many visitors will be weighing their options as the dates draw closer.

Against that background comes news from Independent Egypt that the Alexandria International Book Fair organisers,

have uploaded 200,000 electronic books for free on the ‘Dar’ website.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s director Mostafa al-Feky said that one of the Bibliotheca’s goals in the digital world is to further the availability of knowledge.

With coronavirus spread across the country, Feky called on people confined home to read the Bibliotheca’s electronic library on its official website.

He also warned anyone against stealing the Bibliotheca’s content, referring to a website which had uploaded 13,000 of its books, prompting the institution to take legal action after it had received complaints from several publishers such as Dar al-Shorouk chairman Ibrahim Al-Moallem.

As this post goes live I’ve been unable to identify a link for the Dar website referenced. If anyone can help with that, drop me an email.

UPDATE: the DAR website can be found here. Thanks to Seif Salmawy for the tip.