Inside Kabul’s Book Market:

Fearing Punishment from the Taliban, Now People Avoid Having Certain Books 

AFGHANOTES is the testimony of a team of Afghan journalists who are reporting for Outriders the events and daily life in Afghanistan since the Taliban swept into Kabul on August 15, 2021.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Among the hundreds of books on the shelves of the most famous book market in Kabul is Barack Obama’s latest book, ‘A Promised Land.’

More than 15 widely-read publishers and booksellers operated in this market before the fall of Kabul.

Until now, they used to publish books on diverse topics, including literature, law, politics, technology and children.

In the last twenty years, Afghanistan’s book trade boomed, becoming one of the most free book publishing systems in the region.

During Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001, only two publishers survived: the state publisher and a private company, Aazem Publication. In 2018, there were 22 publishers and 60 registered bookstores, as the New York Times reported.

Now the publishers of this market are concerned with business as those who wrote the books are either out of the country or forced into silence.

Mr Maqsoodi says that in recent years they have not experienced any kind of censorship. “If the laws change, it will cost us hugely.”

“Business has not been good since the new government came,” says Abdullah Eskandari, an employee at Kabura Books.

Fearing punishment from the Taliban, now people avoid having books that are not considered in line with the group’s Sharia law.