The Diwan store in Alexandria
Diwan Bookstore opened its first outlet in 2002 and has ever since been dedicated to spreading the culture of reading in Egypt. The chain now has 10 branches in Cairo and Alexandria, offering a full experience beyond just books. © Diwan
The Diwan store in Alexandria
Last updated: April 29, 2013

Diwan – an Egyptian bookstore favourite

Diwan Bookstore opened its first outlet in 2002 and has ever since been dedicated to spreading the culture of reading in Egypt. The chain now has 10 branches in Cairo and Alexandria, offering a full experience beyond just books.

One of Diwan’s Cairo shops comes with a peculiar atmosphere; brown walls, organized sections of books, and – for Egypt – a surprisingly clean place. You can stay for hours without getting bored. You’ll find a heaven of books – for those of us into any kind of reading, Diwan is the perfect spot.

The store offers more than just the books; music and DVDs as well as a section for stationeries including Egyptian-made notebooks, bookmarks, calendars and even toys.  

Diwan is credited with reviving the publishing industry and launching the careers of many talented writers and has turned into a platform for activities, workshops and events for local authors.

“Every month we organize an event, we host a book signing ceremony and we have workshops. We make art and craft workshops for children, fashion design workshops for teenagers, and for the adults we have several workshops like photography courses, painting courses and creative writing courses,” says Dina El Sharaky, Marketing Manager of Diwan Bookstore’s Masr El Gedida Branch.

Diwan also organises a lot of competitions for creative writers, poets, and short story writers. They also arrange daily competitions on Facebook and Twitter.

Directly after the revolution, Diwan noticed a huge drop in sales, mainly because people were more concerned to read the latest news in newspapers. But in the middle of last year, the situation improved.

“People began to buy the history books more than ever, and began to read the books of political activists who participated in the revolution like Belal Fadl and Omar Taher for example,” notes Dina El Sharaky.

As for Diwan’s bestsellers, the most recent list had “Chicago” by Alaa El-Aswany taking the first place with “Taxi” by Khaled El-Khamis second. The chain’s third most popular book in July was “Rob3 Gram” by Essam Youssef. “Tuesdays” was number four, “With Moore” number five, “Steve Jobs” number six, and “Eat Pray Love” number seven.

Raghda Arafa
Raghda is a Cairo-based regular contributor to Your Middle East.
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