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Is the largest bookstore in Pakistan closing down?

Reports suggest that Saeed Book Bank in Islamabad is struggling to keep business afloat

By Web Desk
October 12, 2019

The largest bookstore in Pakistan is on the brink of collapse after struggling with heavy taxes and an alarming decline in the sale of printed books across the country, suggest reports.

Book readers and social media users in Pakistan have expressed shock and dismay at the news, with social networking website Twitter full of posts about the importance of saving bookstores for future generations.

The book store was founded by Taj Muhammad Qureshi in 1932 in Peshawar, Saeed Book Bank, but moved to Islamabad after militant threats, reports Arab publication Gulf News.

On Friday, notable figures, including New York Times correspondent Salman Masood and Rawalpindi-based journalist Shiraz Hasan, shared the reports of Saeed Book Bank closing down, to much outrage.

Saeed Book Bank is a three-storied store with a sea of literature and books on a variety of subjects on display for sale. With digital media changing reading habits, book stores are closing down around the world.

According to Gulf News, another important factor in the closing of the bookstore is the rise in prices of importing books as a result of the down-gradation of trade ties with India over the past two months.

Piracy concerns also abound, and with the non-implementation of strict measures against the illegal printing of books, book stores like Saeed Book Bank are under huge pressure to keep finances afloat. 

After the news was shared on social media, many users posted heartening messages of their visit to the book store, and the importance of maintaining them to foster reading habits among children and adults.

"Sad state of affair; an icon of Islamabad (F-7 sector), one of the best thing in Islamabad; Saeed Book bank about to close their business," one user wrote on Twitter.

Some were not too impressed with the book collection at Saeed Book Bank though, and minced no words while sharing the news that the store might close.

"Saeed Book Bank is a bit overrated. There’s an emphasis on current affairs books and their ubiquitous locations in the store. Books on other topics are poorly located and slightly more overpriced. Readings and Variety books at Lahore are far superior, in my opinion," a Twitter user said.

However, there were lots of Pakistanis who expressed their sadness at the news.

"Sad to hear that Saeed book bank in #Islamabad is going to close soon. I’m one of them who were used to buy books from there. It is one of the biggest bookstores in the world built by Saeed Jan Qureshi because of his passion and love for books," Bushra Ahmed wrote on Twitter.

One Twitter user said that the closing of Saeed Book Bank from Peshawar and now from Islamabad was the sign of the society slowly disintegrating.

Faran M Rashid from Islamabad was of the opinion that the current management of the store was responsible for the closing down of the book store.

There were even some urgent appeals for people of the twin cities to flock to the bookstore to buy books and save Saeed Book Bank from closing down.