Professionalizing the Arab Publishing Industry

This post originally appeared at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair blog.

One of the larger topics at the ADIBF is the professionalization of the Arab publishing world. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there is no pan-Arab distribution system, there’s a good deal of piracy and copyright infringement, etc. The “Spotlight on Rights” program (see related post) and accompanying seminar on how to buy and sell rights is just one example of the way in which the Book Fair is serving as a place to sell books, find out about books, and learn more about the industry as a whole.

Thankfully, the desire to further professionalize the field won’t end with the closing of the ADIBF. In fact, there are three exciting initiatives presented at the fair that will build on this idea: the establishment of the UAE Publishers Association, a special publisher training seminar in June, and the International Publishers Association Copyright Symposium in Abu Dhabi next year.

The UAE Publishers Association was officially announced earlier this month, and presented at the swanky Gourmand party that took place last night, featuring delicious food, muzak versions of pop hits from the 80s, and occasional dancing. The UAEPA will be headquartered in Sharjah and work to represent UAE publishers both domestically and abroad and help to develop the industry as a whole.

Also presented last night was the IPA Copyright Symposium Abu Dhabi, which will take place from February 28th – March 1st in Abu Dhabi. Sponsored by Kitab, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage, the International Publishers Association, and the Arab Publishers Association, the symposium will, in the words of IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel, be a “unique opportunity to discuss international copyright policy and practice as well as network and find new business contacts.”

On top of both of these initiatives, in June, the Akademie des Deutschen Buchhandels will launch a series of four seminars to train publishing professionals. The Akademie–which is based in Munich–will provide information about editing, marketing, distribution, and management. Sessions include some theoretical information, but mostly these are very hands on seminars, with case studies, and tons of practical information.

Of the four seminars that will take place in 2009, two of them are aimed at CEOs and the other two will be for senior level employees. All of these events are sponsored by Kitab, the Goethe Institut, and the Foreign Office of Germany, and seven fellowships will be offered for each session, covering the cost of the flight and hotel.

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