Sharjah Booksellers Conference: bringing together booksellers, distributors and publishers

The Sharjah Booksellers Conference hosts book experts from around the world to share best practice, network and explore ideas for improving the ecosystem of bookselling, promoting books and getting more people reading for pleasure.

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Organised to precede the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, Sharjah Booksellers Conference will feature a packed agenda comprising keynote speeches, round tables and workshops led by booksellers, publishers, experts, and sector leaders. It will also tackle the challenges of the book market, seize opportunities presented by advancements in digital technology, and explore the latest trends and strategies to advance the sector.

Furthermore, the conference will deliberate ways to integrate entities in the book industry ecosystem and enhance coordination and information exchange. This aligns with SBA’s mission to build a comprehensive regional and global ecosystem that advances the sector and provides the necessary support.

Ahmed Al Ameri, CEO of the Sharjah Book Authority, shares more about the Sharjah Booksellers Conference (April 27-28, 2024), organised by the Sharjah Book Authority. Excerpts.

AABP: What is the primary objective or theme of the Sharjah Booksellers Conference?

Ahmed: The aim is to bring booksellers, distributors and publishers together from around the world to share best practice, network and explore ideas for improving the ecosystem of bookselling, promoting books and getting more people reading for pleasure. This aligns with SBA’s mission to build a comprehensive regional and global ecosystem that advances the sector and provides the necessary support.

AABP: What measures are taken to ensure diversity and inclusion among speakers and participants?

Ahmed: The programme is curated with the audience in mind. We seek the best minds in the industry to join us as keynote speakers and workshop leaders and these can be found all over the world. Importantly we recruit experts who are open minded and can lead discussions which ensure every voice is heard at the conference and that best practice and case studies are presented by everyone.

AABP: How do you select and invite keynote speakers and panelists for the conference?

Ahmed: We have 4 keynote speakers this year. Alongside our host and patron, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi who brings over a decade of experience in the global publishing sector, including in her role as President of the IPA, we have 2 Arab keynotes who have incredible stories to share with us, and a Canadian keynote speaker who has a wealth of knowledge in both bookselling and publishing. They were selected as professionals who have a history in the industry and whom we think the audience will enjoy hearing from.

AABP: What are the major highlights this year?

Ahmed: The format will be the same as last year which was a new format debuted in 2023 of having round table workshops in place of panel discussions. This was felt to be the best way of encouraging participants to have meaningful discussions about the challenges and opportunities in their own market and to seek ways of overcoming obstacles and taking advantage of the opportunities. We are delighted to welcome speakers and workshops leaders to cover topics such as social media, managing bookstores in shopping malls, building communities, the role of technology and AI in bookselling. A key highlight for us is the diversity in our attendees who come from all over the world and are united by their common field.

AABP: How many attendees are expected and from which countries?

Ahmed: We expect 450-500 participants from across the Arab World, India and the sub-continent, African countries as well as Europe and Asia.

AABP: Also brief us about the matchmaking and networking activities at the event?

Ahmed: The format will allow a generous amount of time for networking among the delegates as well as pitching sessions by publishers to encourage awareness of a diversity of books amongst the delegates.

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