Books in Turkey

Never far from books!

Books are a rarity in a lot of Turkish houses. If you read it’s quite unusual, a little eccentric, not something done just for pleasure, certainly here in the villages, because despite an incredibly rich writing culture and the odd Nobel Prize winner, reading is seen as a highly intellectual pursuit.

Books are revered and books are important but it is only recently in Turkey that reading for pleasure has becoming more wide spread and as a result the book business is booming. I guess it is tied to economic prosperity; countries that are growing more affluent tend to read more, book sales in Brazil are on the increase as the economy grows there and the same is true in Turkey.

It’s Frankfurt Book Fair this week, the biggest book trade exhibition in the world, and Turkey will be there with 3000 titles from 200 houses, showcasing the Turkish culture and literary oeuvre. In the Turkish pavilion 17 publishing houses will be selling foreign rights to their books and striking deals that will send the words of Turkish authors out into the big wide world. Good luck to every single one of them!

All book news is interesting to me, and this week I read an article that suggested that we Brits have read maybe 70% of the books on our shelves, the rest are bought for the purposes of looking more literate than we really are. I can’t imagine that, because to me, a lingering look along my book shelves is like watching a trailer for the film of my life and I’ve read every single one of my books, normally several times. Okay, apart from one, The Bonfire of the Vanities, I just couldn’t get into that.

I don’t have book shelves anymore, I have a loft in Wales full of books and assorted windowsills, tables, chairs and any other flat surface here in Turkey for those books I cannot bear to be parted from.

Books are my friends, I keep them nearby and I’m normally reading several at once. Currently close on the bedside table are the following.

Clive James – The Blaze of Obscurity
Neil Gaiman – Anansi Boys
Dylan Thomas – Miscellany One
Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – Good Omens
M M Kaye – The Far Pavilions
Marion Zimmer Bradley – Mists of Avalon (seriously foxed, in fact downright Evil’d)

That’s just one bedside table, I have a bit of a tendency to bedroom hop depending on the weather and the other bedrooms are book stacked too – Peter Mayle is hogging the right hand side of the blue bedroom and Robert Heinlein is lurking on the left hand side, very unlikely bedfellows!

One minus for the Kindle generation is they won’t have that rag tag, much loved, physical pile of memories in their lives that those of us brought up on paper books have. No doubt they will get just as sentimental about the reader itself!

Amazon really should seriously consider bringing the Kindle to Turkey; right now if you are registered on Amazon in the UK and have a UK credit card you can buy the Kindle and books for it, but if you have a Turkish credit card you’re sent away with a cyber flea in your ear.

Amazon may well be the second largest retailer in the world but a new market is a good thing and Turkey is so ready for the Kindle. This is a country where the book business is booming and all new technology is worshipped and automatically adopted as “bound to be brilliant!” Take note Amazon!

Coming soon – more literary type news 🙂