Iran is among the top 10 most censored countries, next to Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and China. However, the digital age is creating a new challenge to Iran's censorship apparatus. An increasing number of writers and translators are turning to the internet to publish their work, instead of going through the tormenting line-by-line scrutiny required for print publication. A rise in paper prices has concomitantly driven more readers to buy ebooks. State TV has started labelling digital books as a new threat that should be taken seriously.

As hundreds of thousands of bookworms converge on this capital, Iranian writers are pleading with the government to loosen its grip and allow a banned publisher into the Tehran International Book Fair.

The 10-day book fair, which kicks off Tuesday at the Grand Mosque Mosalla, bills itself as "the most important publishing event in Asia and the Middle East," drawing an average of 550,000 visitors a day. Though most publishers come from the Islamic world, the festival also welcomes Western companies

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