Arab writers particularly well placed to captivate global audiences


People at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) at the Sharjah Expo Center.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan / Gulf News

The recently concluded Sharjah International Book Fair dazzled visitors with 15 million books presented by 1,576 publishing houses. Historically, Arab writers have had a distinctive prowess with the written word, due to its long history of publishing outstanding masterpieces spanning various genres.

Rightly so, this collection deserves a global audience who can leaf through its wisdom, originality and imagination with much appreciation. As such, the Arab publishing industry needs to reorient and innovate its practices in order to market the works of regional content creators to a global audience.

It is important to bring together a vast network of policy makers, publishers, writers, illustrators, publishers, distributors and booksellers who can together achieve this ambitious vision. The introduction and application of global best practices in printing, content, intellectual property or book illustration is seen as critical to its success.

Publishing current market data, consumer preferences, and government policies and regulations on the publishing industry will provide publishers with useful information to optimize their business plans. Publishers could also co-design impactful regulations for the publishing industry by working with public policy makers, for example by suggesting laws protecting the intellectual property rights of authors and illustrators.

Presentation of fresh new works

The organization of regular trade events, rights buying events, information sessions and training programs will improve the knowledge and skills of key players in the industry. Positioning literary agents as scouts for new voices of writers will also be an indispensable step towards the introduction of fresh new works.

It is essential that original literary voices are cultivated. Writing is as much a profession as an art, requiring the respect of particular linguistic and creative rules to be attractive. A quick search will give you a huge range of academic and informal writing courses offered around the world.

New York University’s Creative Writing Program has been recognized as one of the premier centers for the study of literature and writing for more than three decades. The program is currently taking place in a charming townhouse in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City, where students attend events, workshops, intimate readings, literary fairs, panel discussions, literary nights, lectures and conferences. ‘authors and seminars held in the house throughout the year.

Students can also embark on inspiring summer writing programs based in New York, Florence, and Paris, where they can learn essential writing skills that will take them far on their creative journey.

Its MFA Writers Workshop is a creative apprenticeship organized for five intensive ten-day stays in the city of Paris. During the program, students participate in a range of literary events, including workshops, craft talks, lectures, manuscript consultations, reading series, and professional development panels.

Stimulate the imagination

Paris is ideally placed to stimulate the imagination of writers with its rich literary history and cultural attractions. Its inspiring backdrop sets the stage for many creative moments to master the art and craft of writing, immerse yourself in the creative process, and live the life of a writer just like the legends of writing. that we know.

Equally important is cultivating the skills of other key players in the publishing value chain, such as translators, editors and book illustrators. It is only respectful for foreign literary works to be translated in such a way that readers do not feel disturbed by their original thought and sublimity.

Additionally, aesthetically pleasing book wrapping, from gorgeous book covers to interior book illustrations, is a critical part of overall book appeal. On that note, publishers play an influential role in guiding writers and illustrators so their works can reach stellar literary and artistic standards.

There are many fun ways to market books to the masses. Events such as World Book Day, book fairs, literary festivals, national celebrations, beloved themes, heritage references or celebrating the birthday of a famous author are all opportunities to inspire a culture of reading.

It is vital that books are widely accessible through excellent distribution channels and affordable prices. Clever positioning of books in high-traffic literary hotspots, such as public libraries, book fairs, school libraries, cafes, and workplaces can also create appeal among the masses.

To reach a large readership and scale, Arab publishers should also tap into the digital book market in several creative ways. For example, browsing the websites of many publishers, such as the Waterstone Bookstore, is a pleasure as book lovers can browse top selling books, thematic collections, signed or special edition books, blog posts. and podcasts.

Highlight compelling reads

On the other hand, independent bookstores, like Hatchard’s and Daunt Books in London, actively engage with book lovers through social media platforms. To illustrate, their posts feature engaging readings from in-house experts, showcases decorated with the latest themes or celebrations, author visits, and book signing events. Lately, they have launched an exclusive book subscription service, in which handpicked books are delivered to subscribers on a monthly basis based on their specific interests.

Plus, online book clubs are a great way for readers to get together virtually and discuss or review their favorite books. Publishers can also showcase their best-selling books on popular apps and offer instant access to content when shopping online, like Apple Books, Kindle, and the Audible audiobook service.

Many countries also choose to showcase their best-selling books that focus on their unique heritage, beloved characters, important issues and the voices of authors, such as the Books from Scotland or Japanese Books for Everyone websites. . Popular lifestyle magazines might also feature outstanding Arab content creators and books from the region.

Arab writers are uniquely positioned to captivate global audiences with their fascinating and original voices. By adopting innovative practices, publishers can cast a wider net in the industry and garner a well-deserved appreciation for the literature of our region.

Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with an interest in human development policy and literature.


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