Abu Dhabi International Book Fair Organises Virtual Seminar on Alternative Publishing Platforms

As part of its ongoing series of live virtual webinars, Abu Dhabi International Book Fair hosted a seminar last week entitled ‘Audio and Electronic Publishing: Alternative Platforms’ to discuss the challenges, current reality, and future of the publishing sector. The seminar attracted more than 30 publishers and experts from the publishing sector, with notable participants including Saleh Chebaro (Beirut), Founder and Director of online bookstore, and Ali Abd El-Moneim (Cairo), Director of Publishing Sector at Storytel Arabia, Board Member of the Egyptian Publishers Association and Chairman of the Professional Development and Electronic Publishing Committee.

The seminar examined topics including the role of grants to publishers in stimulating the publishing sector, highlighting Abu Dhabi International Book Fair’s Spotlight on Rights initiative, which aims to encourage the production of audiobooks and eBooks as well as the translation of content from and to Arabic through its three categories of grants to publishers and translators. Participants discussed solutions to some of the challenges faced by the sector, for example how best to promote reading as an essential daily activity.

Participants had the opportunity to explore themes such as audio and electronic publishing in light of current technological advancements, the impact of distribution with regards to the challenges facing the print publishing industry, and the challenges related to the future of print in light of the rising popularity of audiobooks, eBooks and digital platforms.

The session also looked at European and American perspectives, and the vital role played by Arab publishers in these markets. Mohamed Rashad, President of the Arab Publishers Association, addressed publishers’ concerns about the limitations of publishing platforms.

H.E. Abdullah Majed Al Ali, Executive Director of the Dar Al Kutub Sector at the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi continues its efforts to support the publishing sector and industry professionals, especially in light of the current circumstances, which have created unprecedented challenges to the economic and cultural arenas. These workshops with industry specialists will deepen our understanding of the realities that the publishing sector is facing, as technology disrupts the future of the paper book and the impacts of the current global pandemic are felt across the world.”

He added: “The reality is that currently, we have to restrict paper printing and make the internet people’s first point of reference for information, especially as we commit to social distancing measures.  We are very aware that this only increases the challenges that the print publishing sector will face in the short term.”

Through its various initiatives, Abu Dhabi International Book Fair seeks to support publishers by promoting audio and electronic content as well as supporting content translated into and from Arabic, and to protect intellectual property through a campaign highlighting copyright protections. The submissions deadline for this year’s Spotlight on Rights programme has now been extended to 31 May 2020. Applicants can find the necessary submission forms on the website.

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