Monday, 18 January 2010

Peru: The book pirates of Peru

Slightly off topic, but I loved this Guardian slide show of photographs by novelist Daniel Alarcón (no, I haven't read any of his books, but will keep an eye out now) on the subject of Peruvian book piracy. As he points out, the pirate book industry is 'at least' as big at the legitimate one in Peru. While I was in Peru, I made an effort to buy genuine books and CDs, despite the price - after all, I could afford them, having already managed to travel halfway round the world to be there. DVDs, though, were a different story - I have an interest in Latin American film and was fully prepared to support the industry by buying the real deal, but you just can't find nonpirated DVDs!

Alarcón also notes;
For some 30 years, the National Library of Peru’s budget to acquire new books remained unchanged: zero.
I have to say I made good use of the National Library on Avenida Abancay (there's also a new building in San Borja which I think is open now) and it certainly has books less than 30 years old, although I don't know how these are funded, perhaps partly by donations. Despite some of the drawbacks of the institution (the noise from the street; the laborious bureaucratic process of obtaining photocopies; the poor condition of the newspaper archive, and the mysterious bites I obtained while working there), it's a beautiful building and quite conducive to effective work. And the young man operating the photocopier was also both friendly and professional!

Anyway, the photos are great; click through to see them all.

The book pirates of Peru (Guardian)

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