Independent publishers share strategies to overcome pandemic disruption at 11th SIBF Publishers Conference

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SHARJAH, November 1, 2021 (WAM) – The rippling spirit of independent publishers and the current renaissance of indigenous storytelling was celebrated on the second day of the 11th Editors’ Conference held today at Expo Center Sharjah, before the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair. (SIBF).

The second day of the conference was attended by Bodour Al Qasimi, President, International Publishers Association (IPA); Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA); Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, who recently received the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature; and publishing professionals representing the global industry.

Moderated by Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Publishing Perspectives, the session titled “The Independent Publishing Boom: Generating Book Sales,” highlighted innovative ways independent publishers reached out to their readers during the pandemic.

Emmanuelle Collas, editor, Galaade Emmanuelle Collas, France, described how Cameroonian-born writer Djali Amadou Amals, the multi-award-winning novel, “Les impatients”, took shape during COVID-19 containment last year . “It was a time of waiting for most people, but for us as a small publisher, it was also a time of strong determination, energy and humor. We decided to leave nothing to chance. and keep fighting. “

Michel Moushabeck, founder of US-based Interlink Publishing, revealed how rapid adaptation to new business models has enabled the company to increase sales by 8% in 2020 and is currently on track to double in 2021 .

Khalid Al Nassri, publisher of Milan-based Al-Mutawassit, which focuses on contemporary Arab literature and poetry, described the pandemic and the lockdown that followed as a “wake-up call.”

Describing how a poetry evening he hosted on the Zoom platform drew an audience of over 10,000, he said: “The lockdown has been a time for soul searching but also a time to seize opportunities. to modify our publishing processes and adapt them to the new situation. We continued to publish books even though this could not reach the reader, as a symbolic gesture to show that we must all continue. “

The pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the African publishing industry, largely driven by an overcrowded textbook market, said Samuel Kolawole, managing director of University Press Plc, Nigeria.

He added: “Our goal now is to diversify and strengthen our capacities and skills to be able to react positively in unprecedented circumstances.”

Moderated by Angela Wachuka, co-founder and partner of Book Bunk, Kenya, the session titled “Decolonizing Our Stories: The Growing Influence of African Authors”, explored the concept of “decolonizing” African literature as it permeates new markets. The session featured three African writers whose works are translated into Arabic by the United Arab Emirates-based group Kalimat.

Petina Gappah, Zimbabwean author of “Out of Darkness, Shining Light” welcomed Kalimat’s decision, saying: “This is exactly the kind of decolonization we need. We need to decolonize the languages ​​we deem important and decolonize them. publishing centers that we assume are more strategic. “

Stating that decolonization shouldn’t be a check mark exercise for diversity, Gappah added: “What’s exciting about the growing influence of African writers is that we have now started to look inward and start conversations. with other writers on the continent. “

Calling on African writers not to give up their publishing rights, Lola Shoneyin, author and director of the Nigerias Ake Arts and Book Festival, said: “For decolonization to work and for Africa to become a self-sustaining market, we must retain our rights. as writers. It is in this spirit that we launched One Read, a virtual book club that allows our people to access books by African writers.

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Kenyan author of The Dragonfly Sea, said: “African writing is a 1,500 year old feat, it is not emerging now.

Describing how global media networks are turning to Africa to satisfy the need for diverse content, she said. “The new generation is not limited by the old maps; through them, we find new places of shared imagination, shared values ​​and shared curiosities. The shift in interest in the Swahili seas lends itself to a vibrant energy that makes new ideas and stories possible.


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