From the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair blog:
By Chip Rossetti
I attended the engaging (and well-attended) roundtable on digital publishing this afternoon, which featured a lively discussion among seven publishers and apps-developers at the forefront of digital publishing, from Argentina and countries across the Middle East.
The panel was hosted by Shadi Hasan, Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi-based Flagship.co, which creates apps for the iPad, as well as a separate company, Rufoof.com, a platform that provide an app for reading in Arabic on the iPad, while also selling e-books that can be read using that app. (“Rufoof” means “shelves” in Arabic.)
After the panel, I spoke briefly to Shadi Hasan, and to his Business Development Executive, Mohamad Al Hasan, trying to get a sense of who their customers are. According to Mohamad Al Hasan, 50% of their customers are in Saudi Arabia. I would have assumed Egypt would represent a larger percentage of sales (just based on sheer population size), but as Al Hasan reminded me, the Rufoof app is for iPads, which are often too expensive for Egyptian readers. He also pointed out that a full 80% of the texts they offer on their site are free — there is a good deal of self-publishing, as he points out. Rufoof is also worksing more and more with Arab publishers, many of which have launched their own e-publishing platforms, but finding them expensive and time-consuming to maintain, they have begun coming to Rufoof (and digital publishing companies like them) to convert and sell their books.