Industry experts converge at the 12th Publishers Conference 2022
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) at Expo Centre Sharjah, the 12th Publishers Conference (October 30-November 1, 2022) presented insights into trends, challenges, opportunities and future of publishing by industry experts from around the globe.
Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said, “The publishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Sharjah Cultural Project. This is a project that has witnessed significant growth under the directives and vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, with the aim of building a knowledge society and enhancing the role played by books for sustainable development.”
While, Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association mentioned that publishing today is facing many intricate challenges which need to be addressed with a collaborative spirit and a willingness to listen to new voices. She added, “There is power in the unity of vision, just as there is power in the unity of action. And it’s the action we need not just around sustainability but also to ensure the principle of freedom to publish is upheld.”
Insights into Italian book market….
As Italy was the Guest of Honour country at the 41st SIBF, the opening session focused on ‘The Italian Book Market’, moderated by Jacks Thomas Guest Director at BolognaBookPlus,who highlighted that the Italian book market has 5,000 publishing companies and a market worth of 3.4 billion euros, where 52% of sales originate from bookstores. The book market has been successfully responding to challenges to advance the industry.
Digital publishing in the Arab World is developing,Ali Abdelmoneim Mohamed Ahmed, Digital Publishing Consultant with Liberty Education (UK, Egypt, UAE) stated that more publishers are offering platforms online with their books having digital versions. E-book sales of classical books increased by 14 percent last year in the markets of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This is apart from the online publications which have increased by 50 percent.Digital piracy remains a major concern within the Arab world, opined Doha AlRefae (Jordan) who runs Rufoof.
Audiobooks are not a profitable market but are set for an exponential growth, said Govind Deecee of DC Books (India) during the panel discussion titled ‘Emerging Audiobook Markets’, “Publishers are curators when it comes to creating audiobooks. While we deal with a fairly small market catering to primarily one Indian regional language, we have realised it is vital to maintain the quality of production in order to garner interest from the younger demographics of the population,” he said. Ama Dadson, founder and CEO of Akoo Books (Ghana) said the sub-Saharan market for audiobooks is highly focused on mobile technology users and is fast-growing.
Diversity and inclusivity…
Perminder Mann, CEO, Bonnier Book (UK), talked about her passion and tireless efforts to ensure that her company’s culture is inclusive and emphasised on the term ‘representation’ instead of ‘diversity,’ she feels, “Representation within publishing is a commercial, social and moral imperative. Publishing is a global business and as we aspire for content that inspires, informs and educates readers from all walks of life, we need a workforce who can represent the readers we are looking to connect with. Such representation will not only bring financial benefits; it ensures that as publishers, we continue to remain relevant and sustainable.”
Publishing in North Africa….
Tarik El Slaiki, Director of Slaiki Publishing (Morocco), in his panel “Publishing in North Africa: Multilingual Publishing in the Maghreb”said, “Linguistic and cultural diversity is a source of creativity and openness – it offers us multiple visions of the world and allows us to draw on our common cultural values.”
Carla Herbertson, founder and director of Small Audio (UK), in her discussion, New forms of content licensing shared her experience that consumption of audio content, especially among the younger generation, is at an all-time high.
Global publishing market…
On the growing global market for Manga and Webtoon,Kevin Hamric, Vice President of Publishing Sales at VIZ Media, (USA) informed, “Indulging in anime and Manga became more common during the pandemic, with sales increasing exponentially
across all global markets. It is also part of the generational change, and
Manga is today read by every demographic across genres.”More Arabic-language content in Manga have been produced in the last one year than ever,” said Dr Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Arabia Productions (Saudi Arabia).
While, Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House said, “E-commerce is a driver of efficiency and convenience and has levelled the playing field between large and small publishers but surprisingly, it is the strength of the physical format that has prevailed and stabilised the entire ecosystem for books.”
Promoting a nation’s literature for translation, Zanete Pasqualini, Literary Projects Manager and agent of the Latvian Literature Platform (Latvia), mentioned that they have a dedicated 200,000 euros fund to support foreign publishers interested in translating literature. Gvantsa J obava, Editor and Head of the International Projects, Intelekti Publishing (Georgia) said that the translation grants are particularly important for a small country and they work actively to attract foreign publishers.
Well-defined territorial rights are key to building successful consumer-defined markets, said Ananth Padmanabhan, Chief Executive Officer, HarperCollins Publishers (India). He said, “India has one of the largest and fastest- growing English language readership markets with a 250 million potential market which represents just a quarter of its population. If we focus on the diverse local reader habits, the right pricing, there is still space for enormous growth.” The HarperCollins CEO added that although more than 70 per cent of titles at bookstores in India are from international publishers, indigenous publishers are a big part of the country’s distribution network.
The conference was followed by matchmaking sessions for publishers, rights professionals and translators from the region and around the world.
Sharjah International Book Fair
The 41st edition of the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah on November 1st, at Expo Centre Sharjah, the theme being ‘Spread the Word’. SIBF was successfully held from November 2-13, 2022 with a participation of 2,213 publishers from 95 countries , of which 1,298 from the Arab region and 915 from around the world. The show attracted 2.17 million readers from 112 countries during the 12-day cultural extravaganza that ran under the theme, ‘Spread the Word’.
SIBF hosted 150 distinguished authors, intellectuals and creatives who led 1,500 activities and sessions including 200 activities encompassing workshops, talks, and seminars.
During the fair, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, directed the allocation of AED 4.5 million to equip the emirate’s libraries with the latest titles from regional and international publishing houses who have a presence at the 41st SIBF.
With more than 38 million impressions, SIBF’s social media accounts reached more than 7 million users globally. More than 18 million individuals viewed videos created for the 41st edition while the hashtag ‘#SIBF22’ created 78 million impressions. In addition, there were 8,400 individual posts from the public and media that used the hashtag in Arabic and English.
HE Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of SBA, said, “Curtains came down on the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair with over 2.17 million visitors. These are not mere visitors but ambassadors who carry forward the message and vision of SBA, and the emirate’s cultural project that was founded five decades ago by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, which has grown and borne fruit, the latest of which is the recognition as the world’s largest book fair for the second year in a row.”