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The 12th SIBF Publishers Conference kicks off in Sharjah

 In the presence of Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association,the 12th Publishers Conference that kicked off, on Sunday, in the lead-up to the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair, witnessed an unprecedented turnout of publishing stakeholders from around the globe.

 In a keynote address on the opening day of the conference, Bodour Al Qasimi 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’

During his welcome address, His Excellency Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, described the SIBF Publishers Conference as “a leading forum for cooperation and exchanging experiences”. He added that the Sharjah Cultural Project relies heavily on the publishing industry. As a result of His Highness Sheikh Dr.’s directives and vision, this project has seen significant growth. As a member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi intends to build a knowledge society and enhance the role books play in sustainable development”.

 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

At the opening session of the conference, which focused on ‘The Italian Book Market’, Italy was highlighted as the guest of honour country for the 41st SIBF.

 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 times, and incorporating new voices and intellectual perspectives to advance the industry. 

 Lee Ann 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. There is a very strong demand for light fiction and humour; traditional and modern versions of the graphic novel are gaining popularity in every format while history, lifestyle and self-improvement dominate the non-fiction category”.

 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. He added: “Technology also allows small and medium publishers to be present in different countries and markets to satisfy the unique needs of the readers in these markets”.