At the 12th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Publishers Conference, Arab publishers explained how they are utilising cutting-edge technology to deliver high-value Arabic content to satisfy consumers’ changing needs even as demand for print publications rises in the Arab markets.
On the opening day of the 12th SIBF Publishers Conference at Expo Centre Sharjah, panellists at the session, ‘Digital publishing in the Arab World: How are Arab publishers embracing the digital landscape and who are the major operators?’ said that demand for e-books in the Arab world has increased three-fold during the pandemic while the print sector continues to see healthy growth.
Moderated by Eman Hylooz, CEO and co-founder of Abjad Website – Jordan, he said that the younger generation is discovering the beauty of printed books through digital media.
According to Ali Abdelmoneim Mohamed Ahmed, Digital Publishing Consultant with Liberty Education UK, Egypt, UAE, more publishers is offering platforms online with their books having digital versions. They are also collaborating with audio-ready platforms like Storytel and Audible, helping them find fresh audiences.
Although there are more Arab people in the world than there are in the US, there are fewer books produced in the Arab language.
Lebanese publisher Salah Chebaro, founder and CEO of the Neelwafurat web platform stated that less than one million book titles annually for 450 million people are published by Arabs. Around 8,000 audiobooks were produced against 75,000 audio titles in the US market. Only 10 % of Arabic books have been digitised even though there is a large interest from readers. This shows that the e-book market is growing steadily with a stable increase in demand.
One of the challenges that stop publishers to go digital is piracy said Jordan’s Doha Alrefae, who runs rufoof. She said “Most publishers shy away from ebooks as they fear the duplication of content. While this is a worldwide issue, regulations are yet to be in place within Arabic online publishing.”
To combat data piracy, Khaled Ababneh, Business Development Manager of Almotahida Education Group, suggested using watermarking. “Only subscribers should be able to comprehend digitally published content. “Consumers can be controlled by using visual or non-visual watermarks, limiting the number of users or devices, and using content management systems,” he stated.