Indian Publishers Advised to Enter into the MENA Book Market via Sharjah International Book Fair

Indian Publishers Advised to Enter into the MENA Book Market via Sharjah International Book Fair

The ‘Publishers Club’, a virtual discussion initiative organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), organised a session focusing on the business opportunities Indian publishers can benefit from in Sharjah, and delved into ways they could leverage their presence in the emirate to drive their business in the wider Middle Eastern region. The session titled ‘Opportunities for Indian Publishers in Sharjah and the wider Middle East’ saw Ravi Deecee, Managing Partner of DC Books, one of the top five publishers in India, discussing with Emma House, Founder of Oreham House, how the Indian publishing industry was surviving the pandemic-induced crisis by adapting in myriad ways to stay connected with readers while balancing their operations to cope with the lockdown.

Deecee advised Indian publishers looking to break into the Middle East market to use the Sharjah International Book Fair as a launchpad. “It is the biggest showcase for books and publishers in the region, and generally, the starting point of book releases across the Arab world,” he said. “It can open up a huge market right here in the UAE and lead to more opportunities across the region.”

“There is a great opportunity for Indian publishers looking to cater to Indian schools across the region. Textbooks constitute 15 percent of the market. Plus, they can drive the sale of general interest books through fairs held in schools and malls,” Deecee added. 

He advised publishers to plan their entry into the market through SIBF. “Indian publishers generally occupy between 40 and 45 stalls at SIBF and sales can be very encouraging. However, the exposure you get at the fair is priceless with the opportunities for showcasing the authors as well as promoting the publications. Looking further, publishers can also explore the possibility of setting up shop at Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone, which offers unparalleled facilities as well opportunities for connecting with industry professionals across the region.”

“While there was a dramatic fall in sale of physical books initially, DC Books saw a 300 percent increase in e-book and audiobook sales that triggered sales of regular books as well,” said the leading industry figure at discussion that was livestreamed on the Zoom platform. “With the Kerala state classifying books as an essential item, we were able to reopen bookstores, which proved to be a boon for the book industry.”

The Publishers Club virtual series is a part of SBA’s ongoing efforts to support and advance the publishing sector by bringing together industry professionals on a unified platform to exchange knowledge and expertise and discuss strategies to advance the sector globally, while also presenting effective solutions for the unique challenges faced by businesses following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Chris Fernando

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