Sharjah book fair records highest footfall, sales this year


Sharjah book fair records highest footfall, sales this year
Visitor footfall and book sales figures were the highest in the fair's 35-year history

Sharjah - SIBF 2017 showcased more than 2,600 events and had 400 authors from 64 countries participating

By Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sun 12 Nov 2017, 8:20 PM

Last updated: Sun 12 Nov 2017, 10:25 PM

The Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), the world's third largest book and publication industry event, ended on November 11, recording sales of Dh206 million, up 17 per cent from last year.
Both footfall and book sales figures for SIBF 2017 are the highest in the fair's 35-year history. The 36th edition of the book fair attracted a whooping 2.38 million visitors over 11-days, at the Expo Centre Sharjah. This year's attendees have surpassed the 2016 number of visitors, where only 2.31 million visitors attended the fair.
Official statistics from organisers revealed that SIBF 2017 showcased more than 2,600 events and participation of 400 authors, from 64 countries. "The book fair has become an entity in itself. We don't need huge names to attract visitors to the fair," Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) told Khaleej Times. "It was a combination of several factors including the author sessions, book signings, comic book section, kids section, and the pricing and quality of the titles presented that made the book fair a success," he added.
Record-breaking sales
The Dh206 million book sales figures represented an increase of 17 per cent over 2016 figures and was achieved in part due to the high retail performances of new exhibitors.
SIBF 2017 was followed directly on from the Professional Programme, the fair's annual precursor event, held on October 30-31 this year. "Even this activity saw 2,800 matchmaking meetings between 405 publishers and professionals to conclude deals for the buying and selling of rights," said Al Ameri.
Social media attention
The hashtag '#SIBF2017' recorded more than 1.3 billion impressions in English and Arabic. The hashtag was used in the run-up to and for the duration of the fair and proved to be a prevalent trend by users of social media platforms who were eager to interact with the show and follow its associated activities.
Cabinet decision
Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, the UAE Cabinet held a special session at SIBF. For the first time, the Cabinet held a meeting at a book fair to approve the nation's federal budget for the years 2018-21.
The Kids' Programme, which saw 1,632 activities presented by 44 guests from 20 countries. A Comics exhibition was designated for children to give them an opportunity to explore and enjoy the pleasure of reading through visual stories.
The pavilion 'The Future Zone,' brought together 10 leading companies specialising in digital books. The facility enabled participants to showcase their experiences and latest publications and provided high-quality services to readers, including search and purchasing services.
For the first time in its history, the fair offered a smart application that allowed visitors and exhibitors to find out all the details of this year's edition; its events, their dates, the halls in which they were being held and other information.

'We're ready for SIBF 2018'

Dhanusha Gokulan
sharjah - All preparations for SIBF 2018 have been finalised, and planning has begun for 2019, revealed Ahmed Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), SIBF's organisers. Talks are ongoing and the next instalments will see some of the biggest names in the literary circuits, he added.
"Several leading authors have contacted us to become part of the Sharjah book fair, because we've earned a reputation now. Publishers and authors have realised that the fair provides exposure globally and regionally," he added. He added that book lovers could start looking forward to a fascinating edition in 2018.
Ameri also stated that things were busy at the fair this year until the very last minute on Saturday. "Usually things are quieter on the last day, but that was not the case this time. It was great to see so many parents bring in their young children," he added.
Ameri also announced that video recordings of all author sessions that took place at the book fair would be made available on the SIBF website. "We didn't want to live stream it because we want people to enjoy the fair instead of watching it on a screen," he laughed.
Digital public library
Speaking about the launch of the digital public library, Ameri said: "It forms a part of SBA's overall strategy to provide an interactive environment that enriches the cultural portfolio of all members of the community and meets the needs of intellectuals, students, researchers and book lovers everywhere."
He stated that both fiction and non-fiction titles would be available on the digital public library. "Several books on art, architecture, Islamic Studies, and several other subjects will be made available at the library," he added.
The Digital Public Library in Sharjah, which will be implemented in a phased manner, is yet another cultural project in the series of pioneering development projects in Sharjah and the UAE. "It seeks to open up new horizons for international collaboration with cultural institutions and is aimed at freeing access to information available in libraries, museums and other educational and intellectual organisations."

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