Covid-19 restrictions that bankrupted businesses around the world have given a boost to a small second-hand book market in downtown Cairo. So much so that the Diana Market, named after a well-known movie theater in the same neighborhood, has begun to rival Soor el-Azbakeya, Egypt’s most famous market for vintage and second-hand books.
In addition to booksellers, the market is packed with vendors of antiques, collectibles and second-hand goods. The atmosphere is informal, with merchandise displayed on tables or the sidewalk, rather than in stalls.
“During the pandemic, our customers become less enthusiastic to enter el-Azbakeya and we sought to create an alternative market,” said Mustafa Haridi, a bookseller who trades in Diana Market every Saturday.
The key to the market’s success is selling via social media, a method that is new to book vendors and buyers alike in Egypt.
Transactions are done online through social media pages like those of Al-Ta’mi Bookstore for magazines, old documents, photos, newspapers and stamps, the Literary Treasury (Khizanet Al-Adab), and Al-Durr Al-Maknoon Books. All three also specialize in the sale of rare magazines and newspapers.
Vendors display pictures of their books with their prices online, and sales are on a first-come-first-served basis, Haridi said, adding: “Our prices are moderate and fair.”