Friday 10 July 2020 - 4:49:47 am

Publishers Conference discusses strategies to thrive in digital market

SHARJAH, 28th October, 2019 (WAM) -- The second day of the 9th Publishers Conference, being organised by the Sharjah Book Authority, ahead of the official opening of the 38th Sharjah International Book Fair, brought into focus the far-reaching potential that a dynamic digital thrust can bring to publishing and some of the challenging realities that may ensue.

At a session titled "Publishers’ digital strategy: New ways of storytelling" moderated by Porter Anderson, editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives, the picture that emerged was that publishers should not view the digital market as an adjunct of print.

Chiki Sarkar, founder of "Juggernaut Books" in India, said, "When I decided to dabble in digital, I decided to go for a low-priced, subscription-based model, which has worked very well for us. And with my own platform, an app that can be used to download our books, I could play around and decide what worked for me."

Mohamed Shawkey from Egypt’s "Bookjuice Publishing" spoke about the publishing revolution brought about by his company, which started as a collective of book readers.

Major publishers have decided to embrace the digital revolution, as Anantha Padmanabhan, CEO of "HarperCollins" in India, pointed out.

"This week, we released our latest effort, Made in China, in print, digital and film versions, simultaneously. This is where publishing is moving," he said, revealing that HarperCollins had partnered with Sony Pictures on a "books to film" venture. "We no longer think in terms of print alone. In fact, we are looking to create stories for digital consumption."

Ama Dadson, founder and CEO of "AkooBooks Audio" from Ghana, said, "I did a consumer survey among the 10,000 students on campus at the University of Ghana, and among the 200-odd respondents, 57 percent had never downloaded or listened to an audiobook. This was despite 11 million Ghanaians being active online."

She added, "So, I decided to set up as Ghana’s first audiobook publisher. My books have been very well received and I am now looking at publishing original work by local authors, which has a very big market waiting."

A trio of Arab authors, Abdulwahab Alsayed Ali, Ahmed Khaled Mohamed Hamed, and Amr Ahmed Mohamed Abdelhamid, participated in a session moderated by journalist, Badia Atiah Hasan.

The last session of the day, "Freedom to publish: Mighty oaks from little acorns", was moderated by Jacks Thomas, director, London Books Fair, and the participants included Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee, Emirates Literature Foundation; Kristen Einarsson, Chair, IPA Freedom to Publish Committee; Mahmoud Lutfi, publisher; and Daniel Gorman, director, English PEN.