Will the Arab Spring Transform Arabic Publishing?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

It is clear Egyptian and other Arab publishers are beginning to exercise their new freedoms. Many hope their example will inspire a transformation of Arabic publishing.

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature story announces the launch of Swallow Editions, a new press led by Syrian writer-in-exile Rafik cShami to promote Arabic writing to an English language audience.

Describing his motivation, Schami noted that the new generation of Arab writers were freed by the internet:

. . . this new generation is able to resist; the internet liberated it. The [Arab] governments underestimated how clued in this generation is, it smells freedom through the Internet. They were afraid at first but when they learned that they could be quicker than the secret service they lost their fear, and when people lose their fear then it is dangerous for a government.

Schami’s pronouncement comes in the wake of several new publishing endeavors hailing from the Middle East inspired by the Arab Spring, including the launch of 18 Days — a graphic novel about the Egyptian revolution and¬†the first in a series of new¬†graphic novels featuring Arab heroes — and Egyptian house’s Dar Merit’s new publishing plan “focused on freedom.”

It is clear Egyptian and other Arab publishers are beginning to exercise their new freedoms. Will their example inspire a whole scale transformation of Arabic publishing? And will the West pay attention and support them?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.