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Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) organised two panel at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022 to discuss and deliberate on some of the key trends in the industry and explore key issues relating to children’s literature.

The two sessions brought together a panel of experts, including Tamer Saeed, General Manager of Kalimat Group; Dr. Alyazia Khalifa, Founder of Al Fulk Translation and Publishing; and Lina Shabaro, Copyrights Manager, Thaqafa Publishing and Distribution.

In the first session of the Bologna Book Plus programme, titled ‘Changing Trends in the Publishing Industry: Addressing the Fear of New Technology in Publishing’, participants discussed the need for publishers to become agile and embrace digital innovations, as well as how often publishers must adapt to new technology to meet the needs of modern readers.

The session, moderated by Mariam Al Obaidli, Corporate Communications Director at EPA, also discussed the challenges faced by Arab publishers that prevent them from venturing into the digital market, including the absence of legislation to protect the works of publishers from piracy and the prevailing gaps in knowledge to manage digital content.

The panel members advised Arab publishers that empowering themselves by boosting knowledge of the digital realm through professional training and partnerships with relevant regional and international entities will maximise their responsiveness to changing market demands and help them overcome the barriers of embracing the digital revolution.

They added that piracy could be overcome through legislative and ethical cooperation between all stakeholders.

In the second session titled, ‘Welcome to Story Hour: The Process of Creating Children’s Books’, panel members deliberated on key areas of children’s publishing, including a selection of age-appropriate content and legal issues surrounding the same, copyrights, translations, and more. The session was moderated by Fatima Al Nabouda, Corporate Communications Executive at EPA.

Discussing the challenges in translation, speakers said these arise due to cultural differences and added that modifications are carried out on translated children’s books and illustrations to align with the Arab culture while maintaining the original ideas and messages.

The speakers emphasised that the publishing environment in the UAE is flexible, transparent and governed by laws that guarantee the rights of both the publisher and the author and protect the publishing sector from piracy. They pointed out that the recent launch of the Emirates Reprographic Rights Management Association (ERRA), a first-of-its-kind association in the region to protect copyrights of content creators and safeguard the rights of authors and publishers, will ensure the growth and advancement of the publishing sector.

While acknowledging the vast improvement in content over the past decade in the children’s literature sector, panel members noted that enhancing the quality of illustration will enable Arab publishers advance and compete in international markets.