The 12th Beyoğlu Secondhand Book Festival (Antiquarian Book Festival), organized by the Beyoğlu Municipality, has opened in Taksim Square.
Speaking at the opening of the festival, which hosts the most distinguished secondhand book sellers from around Turkey, Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan said, "We are offering secondhand books, which are often ignored due to their low material value despite valuable content, in the center of Taksim so that the most important values of Beyoğlu can be sustained."
The aim of the festival is to keep alive the secondhand book tradition that nourishes intellectual life in Turkey. The festival brings together more than 64 secondhand bookstores from around Turkey.
The opening of the festival was attended by Beyoğlu Mayor Ahmet Misbah Demircan, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Istanbul Deputy and Parliamentary Administrative Chief Hasan Turan, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Culture General Director Kemal Kaptaner and AK Party Beyoğlu Provincial Chairman Harun Muş, as well as many figures from the business, art, politics and media worlds. The opening ceremony started with a delightful interview with famous author İskender Pala, followed by a certificate presentation ceremony for the women who attended Beyoğlu District Mansions' literacy course. Following the inauguration ceremony, Demircan, accompanied by a delegation, toured the secondhand bookstores and spoke with book sellers individually.
Showcase of secondhand books
Demircan stated that as a result of increased prices in developing districts, secondhand book stores had to move to the backstreets of neighborhoods. He said, "Secondhand book sellers go to the lower floors or upper floors of inns. Generally, they do not disappear, but lose visibility. With the idea of sustaining Beyoğlu's values in mind, we have been maintaining these activities for 12 years. There are now secondhand book sellers at the heart of Taksim. Previously, we held the Golden Hands Traditional Handicraft Festival and Antiquity Festival. We strive to do things that will develop and improve our culture." Indicating that secondhand book sellers have a distinctive place in cultural life, Demircan noted, "They are specialists who have not been given rank or who have not been appointed. They are special people who know what is where. With this feeling, we are holding the secondhand book festival. We tried to make sure the festival time coincided with the opening of schools and universities. Book enthusiasts from around Turkey wait for the festival. Our secondhand book sellers also wait for the festival as they collect their precious products during the year. They want to present them here. We also know that lecturers from different universities are waiting for the festival and they find many things they are looking for here in Taksim."
Technology no obstacle
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) Culture General Director Kemal Kaptaner said, "When we were undergraduates, there were two places where we could find secondhand books: Beyazıt and Beyoğlu. Now there is a great convenience. Our mayor has been gathering secondhand book sellers for 12 years at this square, which anyone can easily access. I hope that our friendship with books and secondhand book dealers continues. Technology is progressing and we all have smartphones. Now we can read books digitally. However, there are more developed societies than us in digital terms, such as Japan and South Korea. When we look at them, the rate of reading books is very high and they all read books on the metro and public transport. So, the development of technology is not an obstacle for books. We can make our lives more meaningful and rich by loving books and reading more."
64 secondhand bookstores
With the participation of 64 secondhand book stores from Istanbul and various parts of Turkey, the festival also showcases century old books and magazines, old scripts, old photos, film and theater posters, rare plaques, letters, postcards and special collections. The festival will continue to bring together secondhand book stores and tens of thousands of books for bibliophiles from 10 a.m. to 11. p.m. at Taksim Square until Oct. 7.