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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The Bookseller of Kabul opens his website selling books worldwide and through his new mobile bookshop

Caption right: Pictured is one of the many interesting postcards sold by Rais.

by Suzan Abrams in Dublin

Remember the bestselling The Bookseller of
written by the lovely Norwegian journalist, Asne Seierstad during the height of the Taliban war and which was duly celebrated on the Richard & Judy show and how the work of non-fiction had caused a world sensation as the bookseller himself denounced her story as a lie and had considered taking legal action against her before coming out with his own book in a sweet form of revenge?

To his dismay, Shah Muhammad Rais was portrayed in a non-flattering way and had created a stir by wanting to seek urgent political asylum in either Norway or Sweden. He attributed this hurried decision at the time to fearing for his family's safety after reading the book's contents.

Now, Reuter reports on the 54-year old former engineer's new website where he claims to own Afghanistan's largest collection of books in key international languages and has fostered a new ambition to spread the reading habit worldwide by expounding on his 35 year old book-trade. Reuters adds that Rais is already popular to the expatriate population in Kabul as well as to book lovers.

Rais's website called Shah M. Books. Co. brims over with the bookseller's hearty passion and obvious determination to say nothing of ambition, for the printed page. There are lots and lots of books on offer including an array of colourful posters, postcards and stamp albums that command a distinctly Afghan flavour, of course. Rais also offers customised printing and publishing services and another special binding one where he enthusiastically promotes "true and genuine Afghan made-leather covers" for notebooks and books that demand to be counted as keepsakes.

At the moment, Rais is busy with his newest project Books & Rivers, which has seen the diligent businessman convert a 14 metre long German made Mercedes bus, ready to take on remote parts of the country or just about anywhere at all in Afghanistan with the promise of door-to-door visitations for offices keen on viewing the 'thousands of books' on show.

With the political situation as it stands, no credit card transactions are accepted and orders are to be placed with the Western Union Electronic Transfer. Contact, ordering and the Books & Rivers project details may all be found on the website in the fourth paragraph.


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