Pity the poor book censors in Iran. Unloved by writers, publishers and readers, they confront a backlog of books they must read and approve before they can be distributed to the general public.
The piles of books awaiting their review are so great that books have reportedly spilled out from their offices at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance into the building's corridors.
According to government figures, there are about 7,000 publishing firms in Iran today. Even if only 1,000 of those publishers delivers five books a year for approval, that's 5,000 books a year the censors must wade through.
[LEFT]To make matters worse, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, one of his first acts was to require that all books that had been licensed under his predecessor, President Mohammad Khatami, be reviewed.
That created a massive backlog. Censors had to go through already published works, as well as the never-ending flow of new ones, checking line by line to see whether they were compatible with the "core Islamic values" the new administration wanted to assert.
For all our media's faults I think I'd rather wade thru the sludge pile and be able to choose what I want than have the gov't decide what I shouldn't see.