Dear Marwa Rakha broke all the rules for real this time when she decided to publish her best selling book “The poison tree” for free online whether as a written book or as an audio book in a surprising move. Marwa is having a hard time with her publishing house which was supposed to be from the new promising publishing houses that supported liberal , independent and young writers. You can read more about her problem in her website.
Now I am not surprised at what Marwa suffered or is suffering with her publisher at all , this is a normal thing in Egypt , publishing is just a printing for profit job in Egypt nowadays. It seems that most of the publishers are vampires in Egypt and this I am saying from a personal experience.
Without mentioning names after the death of my late grandfather I found out his last book on which he was working and I used to help him in was published without our knowledge , I found out by coincidence online !! The book was published even without the pictures and new arrangement my grandfather planned for it before his death. Not that only we found out that one of my grandfather’s books was reprinted for a new edition.The publisher came to our house and apologized and told us that it was hard year for him and he was going to call us..etc. He promised to come with a contract and a check , especially he knew that my grandfather had finished another two other books.
Up till the moment of writing down these lines we have not received a single penny from those two books despite they are successful and I see them everywhere. He did not call us and we did not call him back. I do not hide that the last book makes me so angry because if that publisher has one sense of respect for that man who stood besides him and his family for all those year and told us that he was going to publish the book , we would give him all the pictures and documents my granddad gathered for that specific book.
For some reason the family refuses to take a legal action , my mom told me that there is no use and legal route is too long and she and the family are not ready yet to go in to it. My mom had a terrible long experience in the legal route in her divorce from my dad. My aunt before Marwa’s goes online with her book for free thought about this idea last year , that I publish the book online for free and thus I would burn it for that greedy publisher.
It is a sad thing because my grandfather stood with that publisher’s family since 1970s till his death !!!!!!!!!! He stood with him when his father died leaving the publishing house which was once no.1 in Egypt on the brink of bankruptcy !! I am not speaking about a new publishing house like the one Marwa’s dealing with , I am speaking one of the publishing houses that dealt with very big names in Egypt from politicians to writers to novelists to scientists.
This is just an example , you want another powerful example on how publishers in Egypt can go too far , I will give one : The feud between Ihsan Abd El-Koddus family and their father’s publisher who is another old and major publisher in Egypt , he was the publisher of Naguib Mahfouz and Ihsan Abd El-Koddus. Simply the publishing house has discovered that the content of Ihsan Abd El-Koddus does not suit the Gulf region after all those years and thus it decided to edit and censor Abdel Quds’ novels themselves by changing words and sentences !! If it were not the fact that Abdel Quds family has the original transcript of the novels and they were keen to stand for their father’s creativity rights nobody would have noticed !!!! Now they went to the court and waiting for justice.
I believe we do need new laws and regulations that preserve of both the author and the publisher rights. It is enough now that we do not have publishing houses like in old days despite the fact that I feel people began to read again.