By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: Book lovers can enjoy reading at the cozy Bliss and Paper bookstore in the heart of Kuwait City. Located in Dasman Complex, Bliss and Paper welcomes visitors daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. The store opened in August 2021. Bliss and Paper encourages reading, writing and recycling. “We were a nonprofit organization for eight years. Initially we were located at Bayt Lothan, then at Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah. After that we moved here and changed the concept to a bookstore café, while remaining a community bookstore,” owner Fajer Ahmad told Kuwait Times.
She has been collecting books since 2013. “I currently have around 11,000 books at this bookstore, apart from books in storage. Around 5,000 books available here are also displayed online. I also have rare books such as the first English translation of the Holy Quran by George Sale, and Carsten Niebuhr’s book that first mentions the name of Kuwait,” she said.
The main goal of Fajer is to recycle. “All the books that are available here are recycled. People donated these books and received ‘credits’ from us. They can use these credits to buy books, drinks or snacks from us. Everything in our store is compostable and recyclable,” she noted. “We pay more for packaging to make sure our disposables do not include plastic. This includes the straws and cups. Everything is zero plastic and zero waste. We don’t throw anything. We even use the coffee waste to make scrubs,” added Fajer.
The majority of books are in English and Arabic. “We have a few books in foreign languages, but they are rare, like maybe one or two books. We also sometimes receive obsolete books, such as how to use Excel 2000, for instance. So we either don’t accept them or recycle them by using their pages to make artworks. We have also rejected some banned or offensive books. We have some vintage books that are not published anymore. We also have books that were never printed in Kuwait, although they include information about Kuwait in the 1950s or 1960s,” Fajer explained.
“There is a special room for kids, as we focus on children and encourage them to read. We also rent our meeting room, which can accommodate up to six people. People can also rent the place for book launches, book reviews or discussions, TV interviews or photoshoots,” stressed Fajer. Some people just come to read. “We encourage reading and writing. On average, we have around 30 to 40 people coming during weekdays, and around 200 during weekends. Most people come in the evenings. During the daytime, most visitors are from this building (Dasman Complex),” she concluded.