145 Arabic books to be translated to other languages

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145 Arabic books to be translated to other languages

The Arab world has always given great importance to reading according to Sharjah Book Authority chair


Afkar Ali Ahmed

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Published: Mon 7 Nov 2016, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Mon 7 Nov 2016, 7:20 PM

During the last couple of days of the book fair, publishers signed 145 deals to translate books from Arabic to other languages, said Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) during a session on the side lines of the ongoing 35th edition of Sharjah international Book fair (SIBF).
During the panel titled 'What the Arab world reads and how" a literary debate organised by BBC Arabic Radio, Book World Programme at the Sharjah International Book Fair, he said that the annual sales figure for the book fair reaches $40 million.
Al Ameri said the Arab world has always given great importance to reading and said that it is an intrinsic part of Arab society. "For instance, in the UAE, the book market is valued at $230 million dollars. In the Arab world the value of the book market is $1 billion," he said.
When it comes to digital books, he said there are a number of challenges facing that market in the Arab world. These include the fact that many companies do not support Arabic. "Google just started to support Arabic in 2016. Apple and Amazon still don't support Arabic. This has a direct effect on digital books in the Arab world. Also e-readers are expensive, the batteries don't last long," he said.
Al Ameri said when it comes to marketing, some publishers use social media. Many books, he said, have gained popularity even though they are not high in quality, adding that some have become popular for their negative publicity, as well.
"It is important to market books in a systematic and interactive way, making sure that the marketing efforts are effective in reaching the right people. He said that lack of reliable statistics is also an issue in the publishing world.
Speaking about reading in the Arab world, Egyptian journalist Sayyed Mahmoud said it is closely related to the educational and cultural affairs of each country and its policies. "In Egypt, the political change that has happened in the last few years have brought about some changes. In the 70s and 80s bookshops in Egypt were closed and were being substituted by shoe shops, this is not the case anymore there are more and more bookshops being opened everyday" said Mahmoud.
He said that while books that win awards witness a notable improvement in their distribution numbers, the concept of a best-selling author in itself is "consumerist" and sometimes it is not based on quality. Like in fashion, the concept of a trademark works well in books, he argues, and the trademark endorsing the book would be the publisher.
"When I visit a trade fair, I know which publisher will have the best books in every field," he said. This trust is because of the quality of the publisher and the fact that I know in advance that the publisher would have worked closely with the author on the book," he said.
Mahmoud also raised a few questions on the transparent relationship between the author and the publisher. "The writers are always accusing the publisher of infringing on their rights and the publishers always accuse the writers of overestimating themselves," he said.
- afkarali@khaleejtimes.com

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