Sheikha Bodour addresses the media.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
In the presence of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association, the 12th Publishers Conference that kickstarted today (Sunday) in the lead-up to the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair, witnessed an unprecedented turnout of publishing stakeholders from the region and around the globe.
The stalwarts of the publishing industry used the vibrant platform of the annual industry-wide event to exchange ideas and knowledge and share new insights into the exciting transformative developments that are redefining the global publishing landscape.
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) at Expo Centre Sharjah, the three-day event presents a stimulating and inspiring vision of the future of publishing while also providing comprehensive insights into the current trends, challenges and opportunities in the industry.
HEALING THE WORLD THROUGH PUBLISHING
In a keynote address on the opening day of the conference, Sheikha Bodour commended the global publishing industry for its efforts in adapting to a changing world by taking steps towards more diversity and inclusion.
The IPA President said: “This is important because publishing today is facing so many intricate challenges and we cannot face them with one-dimensional thinking and a business-as-usual approach. We can only face them with a collaborative spirit and a willingness to listen to new voices.”
Highlighting the importance of sustainability in the industry, the IPA President urged publishers at the conference to not leave anyone behind but to work as a team to create sustainable solutions and move forward together.
She said: “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.”
BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
Describing the SIBF Publishers Conference as “a leading forum for cooperation and exchanging experiences”, Ahmed Bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, said in his welcome address: “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 Dr. Sheikh 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 to be achieved.”
The SBA Chairman also thanked Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi for her unparalleled efforts as IPA President in achieving several milestones during her tenure.
GUEST OF HONOUR SPOTLIGHT
The Italian Book Market Italy, celebrated as the Guest of Honour country at the 41st SIBF, was in the spotlight at the opening session of the conference that focused on ‘The Italian Book Market’.
Moderator Jacks Thomas, an international books and culture specialist, and currently Guest Director at BolognaBookPlus, said that with 5,000 publishing companies and a market worth 3.4 billion euros, the Italian book market – where 52% of sales originate from bookstores – has been successfully responding to challenges, moving with the times, and incorporating new voices and intellectual perspectives to advance the industry.
LeeAnn Bortolussi, Rights Manager at Giunti editore, a historic Florentine publishing company, pointed out that translation trends in children’s literature were similar to that of the adult book market in Italy. “Non-fiction, psychology and illustrated books continue to be popular.”
With the cultural industry growing at a phenomenal rate in Italy, Carlo Gallucci, Publisher, Carlo Gallucci editore, said this was reflected in the growth in children’s literature too, adding that during the pandemic, there was a renewed interest in the tactile and illustrative nature of print books.
The Italian publisher affirmed that the 2018 partnership with Sharjah’s Kalimat Group has led to a growing interest in bilingual books – both for the Arabic speaking population in Italy and Italian readers drawn to the distinctive illustrations and themes of the Arabic titles.
Marco Sbrozi, Editorial Director of Hoepli Publishing, noted that technological advancements in the publishing industry have widened the scope for a new kind of production that blends the paper version with digital solutions to reach a larger audience of readers.
IPA president emphasises the role of publishers as peace builders and community healers as they mobilise resources to keep books in the hands of readers and rebuild institutional collections.
Sheikha Bodour called on female publishers and authors at the PublisHer summit to come together in support of women working in the industry.
Industry players needed to come together to define more precisely what sustainable publishing’ means to them, said the IPA president
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Legacy Art, who was among the participants, was founded in Dubai with a vision to promote art by established and emerging artists from around the globe.
Participation in book fairs in Kuwait, Algeria, and Al Ain through Menassah facilitated the distribution of over 10,000 books published by 103 of its member publishers to Arab readers.