This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
Over the past few years, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair has grown substantially, taking on a more professional focus and serving as the platform for visitors and publishing folks within the region to meet and start doing business. One of the driving forces behind the expansion of ADIBF is the belief among foreign publishers that the Middle East represents a relatively untapped market (pun unintended) with enormous potential.
Today’s “teatime” event offered a chance for English-language publishers to get a better understanding of the opportunities in the region, and to demonstrate how valuable it is to attend the ADIBF (and as a publisher myself, I can confirm this).
This may well have been the most well-organized, comprehensive, and useful panel that I’ve attended so far at the Fair. (Not that the others were bad, but damn, this was like consultant-level knowledge.) Each of the presenters were very clear, very engaging, and very practical in their advice.
The difficulties for English-language publishers wanting to enter into the Arabic market are fairly evident, but worth repeating: reading isn’t a fundamental activity in the Arab world, most print runs are very small, and books are considered to be a luxury purchase. Not to mention, the “Arab Book Market” is by no means homogenous, with each country functioning in a slightly different way and applying different censorship criteria. And the Western idea of “distributors/wholesalers” is totally different in the Arab World.
That said, opportunities exist both for trade publishers and educational publishers. On the trade front, the fact that bookstores are becoming more professional—through the opening of Borders, Virgin Megastores, etc., in the UAE—offers sudden opportunities for publishers to get their books in front of readers. Plus, there are a lot of programs in place to promote literacy and encourage children to become readers.
On the educational side of things, there’s even more going on. Every year more and more International Schools are opening in the UAE (and elsewhere). At the present time, more than 450,000 students are being taught in English. Parallel to overall education initiatives, a lot of money is going into expanding and improving library collections. Ministries of Education are spending a lot of money on educational resources and teacher training, and are looking for appropriate materials to use and companies to partner with.
All of this sounds great, and looks good on paper, but to really take advantage of these opportunities and the rapidly expanding Arabic book market, the best thing to do is to learn more about the Arab world and how business is done there, and to start making connections with people in the area. For that reason, attending the ADIBF next March makes a lot of sense.
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .