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The Lido Market: Morocco’s Famous Hub for Used Books

Lido…the most famous market for selling used books in Morocco. Its visitors are students, professors, and researchers

In the heart of the city of Fez, the scientific capital of Morocco, there is a market for selling used books, which has become famous within Moroccan cities and also in some Arab countries, and it is called “Lido Market” or “The Hole.”

The market was established on a pit-like slope; From the outside and from a distance, it looks like one of the marginalized neighborhoods, because all its shops were built from tin sheets in a large random manner, according to what the Arab World News Agency reported.

The visitor cannot imagine that this is a place where the rarest and most valuable books are sold, and that in those shops there are books on philosophy, medicine, literature, science, mathematics, and the most famous international novels.

The Lido Market is located not far from Mohammed bin Abdullah University, which is one of the most famous Moroccan universities. The market is a haven for students, professors, and researchers from all Moroccan cities, as it provides curricula for all levels of study, as well as specialized books in science, philosophy, literature, religion, law, and in all living languages.

Market emergence

Regarding the emergence of the market, Hassan Bin Adada, a bookstore owner in the city of Fez who has good knowledge of the field of book selling in the city, says that the Lido Market was established at the beginning of the eighties of the last century when some used book sellers were occupying the squares adjacent to the Mohammed bin Abdullah University in the city and selling old books. For students.

Part of the exhibits at the Lido Market in Morocco (Arab World News Agency)

He mentioned that in that period, the most distinguished and famous bookseller was called Muhammad Al-Halwi, and he owned a shop in the form of a caravan or mobile vehicle, and he provided books to students in various specializations. One day, Al-Halawi and all the students were surprised when his shop burned down without knowing the cause of the fire or who was responsible.

Bin Adda said that students and those familiar with university affairs during that period believed that the fire was likely to have been an intentional act, given that Moroccan universities, and in particular Mohammed bin Abdullah University, were living under the influence of political tensions, and there were some books that were prohibited from being circulated among students, while the Al-Helwi is distinguished by providing all books to students at reasonable prices.

In an interview with the Arab World News Agency, Bin Adda confirmed that after the sweet cart burning incident, the security authorities in the city granted all booksellers located close to the university a linear space in a neighborhood called Lido, not far from the university, to sell their books.

Bin Adada said: “The sellers set up tin barracks in the space allocated to them, so that they could continue their trade. The Lido was not far from the university; “The students of Mohammed bin Abdullah University pass by it on their way to or from the university.” He explained that, in addition to used and worn books, new edition or edition books are also sold in the Lido Market.

There are even copies of some new books, especially some books that are sold at high prices in their original edition, such as medical college curricula and preparatory department books, the price of some books may reach 800 dirhams (about 204.6 US dollars). “Lido book sellers copy the book and sell it for only 100 dirhams… Although it is piracy, it is something that helps students relatively,” according to Benada.

Source of worn books

Regarding the source of the worn-out books sold in the Lido market, Benadada said: “They are mostly from people who died, and their children wanted to get rid of their libraries, as well as the books of some students who dispensed with them, while new books are acquired from publishing houses in Casablanca, and sometimes a visitor may come across Book relics and books of very old editions or that went out of print several years ago.”

Books displayed at the Lido used book market in Morocco (Arab World News Agency)

Most of the booksellers in the Lido market are intellectuals; They gained a lot of knowledge through their daily dealings with books, students, and professors. Each of these people knows at least the books, references, and novels in his shop, and they often provide advice and guidance to students and researchers.

Nour al-Din al-Hassani, one of the booksellers in the Lido market, said in an interview with the Arab World News Agency that the market included about 180 tin shops, “but most of them closed their doors due to the lack of success in the trade experience in them, which was mostly trade other than books. While the bookstores have remained steadfast from that time until today, their number is approximately 20 stores, each of which has an area of ​​one and a half square metres.”

He said that the bookselling profession had a good start; Where all books were available, whether cultural, philosophical, literary or scientific, in addition to the textbook; But the bookselling profession has recently begun to decline, and some of the city’s libraries have closed their doors in the face of the digital book invasion and technological development that has affected even print newspapers and magazines, which has led to most kiosks closing their doors.

He went on to say: “As for the remaining bookstores in the city, they are only specialized in selling school books and some novels that have dominated the market, especially forged novels that enter Morocco illegally and self-development books.”

Rows of used books in the Lido market in Fez, Morocco (Arab World News Agency)

Al-Hassani stressed that the Lido Market has gained local and international fame, as its visitors are not only Moroccans from all Moroccan cities, but it also has some visitors from several countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq and some Gulf countries.

He said: “I specialize in selling books with new publications, especially heritage books, volumes, books on interpretation of the Qur’an, and philosophical and literary books. Most of my customers are students of ancient education and Sharia, university professors, and secondary school professors.”

Novels and self-development books

He pointed out that among the customers of the Lido Market are young people who come to buy novels and self-development books such as “Antichristos” by Ahmed Khaled Mustafa, “In My Heart is a Hebrew Female” by Khawla Hamdi, and “Be a Traitor and You Will Be Prettier” by Abdel Rahman Marwan Hamdan. These are popular novels among young people today.

According to Al-Hassani, there is an elite group of intellectuals who have a special type of book. He says that the works of the Syrian novelist Hanna Mina and the Saudi novelist Abdel-Rahman Munif, for example, “are not bought by young people, because in his belief they exceed their level of awareness and culture.”

He went on to say that despite the technological development, there is a group of readers who cannot part with the paper book and prefer to read in it rather than on the phone, especially the elderly because of their close relationship with the book. These, he says, come to the market.

Lido Market “The Hole” in Morocco (Arab World News Agency)

According to Al-Hassani, book prices range between 5 dirhams and 200 dirhams, depending on the quality of the book, its availability in the market, the date of its publication, and other criteria that determine the selling price. He mentioned that there are books that may be sold even for more than their original price due to their scarcity or importance.

Al-Hassani talked about one of the books that was included in the curricula in early primary education during the eighties and nineties of the last century, which was the book (Reading) with the blue cover. Its price did not exceed 12 dirhams, and today it is sold on some electronic pages for 200 dirhams. Although it is no longer included in the school curriculum, there are those who buy it as a keepsake.

2023-12-28 13:22:31
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