How research and data can boost the UAE’s book industry was the central focus of the workshop.
Sohaila Ahmed, Staff Reporter
Signalling a brand new step in a series of efforts that the Emirates Publishers Association has been making to help UAE’s publishers optimise their business abilities, a full-day workshop on research and data was conducted by the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) in collaboration with The Nielsen Company yesterday, in Sharjah.
A gathering of over 35 publishers and other industry professionals was in attendance at the Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ), and spent the day understanding business innovations in data accumulation that can help create a better publishing market, here in the UAE, and beyond.
How research and data can boost the UAE’s book industry was the central focus of this workshop, a concept that EPA is introducing to the local publishing market based on their groundwork, which shows publishers in the UAE can hugely benefit by implementing data aggregation and survey research to aid the discovery and purchase, distribution and sales measurement of their products.
The workshop is a starting point of this new EPA project, which aims to establish a complete database of the UAE publishing market that will be the basis for their partner, Nielsen, to begin developing a customised BookScan service for the UAE market, to fulfil the needs of local publishers and other stakeholders.
Nielsen BookScan data service is one of the biggest worldwide to offer point of sale data for book sales, and have been serving global publishing hubs like the UK, Mexico, India and South Africa. Jeremy Neate, Head of Research and BookScan Founder, Nielsen BookScan International; and Andre Breedt, Managing Director, Nielsen Book Research International, were introduced to UAE publishers in attendance, and offered them an overview of the project’s requirements including specific areas like the searching and collection of data where they will need direct support from local publishers. Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director of EPA, has urged publishers to cooperate with the Nielsen Group by offering active assistance to their research and data gathering process, stressing that the project’s outcome will be key to not only tracking sales, but compare their month-on-month growth and have a clear picture of their market standing, locally and globally.
“Individual statistical data that will be received from publishers will be absolutely confidential. They will not be individually disclosed, but used to generate collective UAE market performance projections and reports, and guide publishers to take informed production and sales decisions,” Al Kous added.
Neate and Breedt presented market-specific methodologies, research frameworks and building blocks to the workshop’s attendees, engaged with publishers in a series of discussions to understand the local market’s key challenges and their business requirements better with regard to data and research.
They presented examples and data from other markets where a BookScan service has been implemented, and covered topics like metadata aggregation and quality, survey research and epos (BookScan) sales tracking.
“We are interested in knowing about any point of book sales in the UAE. Be it traditional bookstores, book fairs, garden centres, gas stations, or even restaurants selling cookbooks! The first crucial step towards customising BookScan for the UAE’s publishing market will be understanding the entire sales and distribution market. This will help us really get to the core of consumer behaviour in the country, pick up recurring buying patterns, track down bestsellers on a regular basis, classify sales according to age groups, and more. This will help us offer fresh insight to all industry stakeholders, not just publishers, and align them around a common vision, which will definitely streamline businesses and ultimately boost the local publishing landscape,” said Neate.
Iman Ben Chaibah, Founder & CEO, Sail Publishing, is certain this new EPA initiative will be helpful to local publishers. “I am aware about the tremendous forward momentum publishing markets globally have gained since establishing their own BookScan services. Data is king now in any industry, therefore, the moment you start learning who buys what or what is being bought more, where, at what time; these market specifics immediately put us publishers in a position to learn more about ourselves and our competitors, and manage our businesses better.”
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