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Do Cash Awards Promote Publishing in Growth Markets?

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story covers the ongoing Sharjah International Book Fair. This year, the Fair introduced three new book awards for English language works (discussed in the piece). In addition, the Egypt-based Dar El Shorouk won the second edition of the Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature with the book, Al Noqta Al Sawda (The Black Dot), written and illustrated by Walid Taher. The prize is itself worth one million AED ($272,000 USD), with 50% going to the publisher and 50% to divide between the author and illustrator.

Meredith Howard, Publicity Director, Columbia University Press, with award for Best English Language Business Book at the Sharjah International Book Fair

These come in addition to a variety of other relatively new book awards given in the UAE, largely for Arabic-language titles, ranging from the Sheik Zayed’s Book Awards (worth a total of seven million AED — or $1.9 million USD) to the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (worth $50,000 USD to the winner, plus $10,000 for each shortlisted title).

The proliferation of prizes in the UAE has been one means by which the Emirates have been able to offer financial support to publishers and encourage them to produce higher quality books. The practice seems to be effective in the UAE (and by extension throughout the Arabic-speaking world), as publishers strive for these lucrative and prestigious prizes.

Could the practice work in other growth markets to promote publishing?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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