Khawr Al Zubair's lone bookstore

Basra: Bookstore fights for survival with gemstone strategy

KHAWR Al ZUBAIR, BASRA, January 10 — Attiya Munshid, the owner of the area’s only bookstore, has adopted an unconventional approach to keep his literary passion alive. Amid the dwindling popularity of physical books, Munshid now sells gemstones and rings alongside literary works, not out of affinity for the stones, but as a financial lifeline for his bookstore.

Attiya Munshid, a historian with 40 authored works, opened his bookstore to offer novels, poetry, philosophy, and sociology. However, the low customer turnout prompted him to diversify. “I was forced to sell gemstones, rosaries, and rings because they are in high demand, especially among the youth,” Munshid explained.

Despite the challenges, Munshid remains steadfast in his commitment to maintaining Khawr Al Zubair’s sole bookstore. “As a historian and author, I invest the earnings from other merchandise to acquire more books. My goal is to support printed books and preserve their relevance against the backdrop of a society increasingly absorbed in iPads and mobiles,” he said.

Munshid’s efforts also serve to address intellectual decay and societal challenges. He calls for support from the General Union of Writers and Authors in Iraq, suggesting they reduce the prices of their monthly releases to benefit bookstore owners like himself.

His bookstore, frequented by both elderly readers and younger ones keen on the latest literary releases, offers books priced between 5,000 to 10,000 Iraqi dinars, based on importance and printing quality. The gemstones, varied in rarity, are priced from 20,000 to 100,000 Iraqi dinars. Munshid’s dedication to his bookstore reflects both his love for literature and a creative approach to ensuring its survival in a changing world.