Thursday, December 09, 2010

English language bookshop opens in Fez

It was with great anticipation that we visited the brand new American Language Center bookshop in the Ville Nouvelle. It has been almost impossible to buy books in English in Fez until now.

The shop, situated at the Center at 2 Ave Ahmed Hiba, is run by former librarian Mary Conway. It's early days yet, and stock is limited. The shop will have text books for the students at the Arabic Language Institute, and carries a range of dictionaries and some books for the Moroccan students learning English that are graded according to their level.

There are some handsome photographic books on Moroccan architecture and design, and a couple of cookbooks (but the Clock Book is missing). The shop focuses on books about Morocco such as Edith Wharton's In Morocco, Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass, Peter Mayne's A Year in Marrakech, Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky and some of his short stories, and has some non-fiction by writers such as Fatima Sadiqi. Books written in English by Arab writers are also represented.

There is a large number of Penguin classics at only Dh20 each, but no modern fiction yet.

Sadly, the bookshop's policy of having only one copy of each book is simply bad retailing.
"We had a copy of Tahir Shah's The Caliph's House", said Mary, "but it's been sold". Likewise, there's one copy of Suzanna Clarke's popular A House in Fez, one copy of Lonely Planet's Marrakech Encounter, and so on.

The shop will accept second-hand books if they're in good condition.

The opening hours are 10am-1pm and 2-4.30pm Mondays to Fridays.


Anonymous said...

There is a great potential in that business if they decide to stock it well. Hard to find English-language books or magazines in Morocco.

Brenda said...

Yes. Badly stocked. It needs a bookseller with experience. The selection of books looks more like a library collection than those in a bookshop. However, it is early days and this is a good start. Please keep us posted as to improvement as we come in to Fès every few weeks for supplies.
Brenda & Claire

thami said...

A ma connaissance, une librairie spécialisée en langue anglaise a bien existé. Elle était située pas loin du cinéma Empire (devenue actuellement un magasin de lunettes.
Mais elle a fini par fermer faute de lecteurs assidus...
Je ne peux donc que saluer cette initiative de rendre le livre anglais de nouveau accessible...
Bonne fin de semaine lumineuse!

David Amster said...

Thanks for your feedback and suggestions. The ALC/ALIF Bookshop hopes to provide books for the following:
Moroccan students learning English
Moroccan English teachers
Foreign students of Arabic
English-speaking residents and visitors

We will stock books based on what people say they want and need, so please let Mary know what you're interested in when you visit. Our approach is to have a wide selection of interesting titles, and to have new books coming in on a regular basis.