Ingram’s Lightning Source Opens Print-on-Demand Facility at Sharjah

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Sharjah Book Authority and Ingram Content Group announce a joint venture, Lightning Source Sharjah, a print-on-demand installation at the Sharjah Publishing City free trade zone.

Sharjah Publishing city, the west entrance. Image: Sharjah Book Authority

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Ahmed Al Ameri: ‘Outreach Into Regional Markets’
Creating one of the Middle East’s first large-scale print-on-demand installations, Ingram Lightning Source and Sharjah Book Authority have announced today (November 23) the opening of a major facility at the world’s first free trade zone for publishing, Sharjah Publishing City.

The news comes more than two years after the Book Authority’s chair Ahmed Al Ameri and Shawn Morin, president and CEO of Ingram Content Group, signed their agreement of intent at what would be the final iteration of BookExpo in New York.

The development of this printing center has been understood to be an essential component in the promise of Sharjah Publishing City to become a publishing gateway into the Arab world and African markets of world publishing.

The potential importance of the new facility lies in the region’s longstanding need for robust production and distribution. As today’s media messaging puts it, this new capacity–put together as a joint venture named Lightning Source Sharjah between Ingram Content Group and Al Ameri’s Sharjah Book Authority–”will expand access to content and enable publishers to meet consumer demand more rapidly in the area.”

Ahmed Al Ameri

In making the announcement that the new facility is now becoming a reality, Al Ameri says, “Sharjah Publishing City is pleased to partner with Lightning Source in creating this print-on-demand facility.

“It represents an important addition to the free zone’s operational capabilities and will offer publishers, retailers, and other stakeholders significant opportunities to expand their access to books and content, as well as their outreach into regional markets.

“The establishment of Lightning Source Sharjah, Ingram’s first print-on-demand facility in the region, is indicative of the strategic opportunities Sharjah provides to publishing business in the region, and also firmly reflects on the emirate’s leading status on the global cultural stage.”

John Ingram: ‘Fueling the Modern-Day Publishing Industry’

Opening dinner preparations in the atrium at Sharjah Publishing City in the United Arab Emirates, 2018. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

John Ingram, the chair of Ingram Content Group, says, “We have long enjoyed a strong partnership with  Sharjah Book Authority and are excited about the opportunity this new venture brings for Sharjah, Ingram, and the broader Middle East and Gulf region.

John Ingram

“I would also like to personally thank His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi for allowing us to be part of this important initiative in Sharjah.

“Print-on-demand is fueling the modern-day publishing industry, making the digital and physical distribution of diverse content across different languages and regions seamless.

“This new facility will bring these world-class innovations to scale in the Middle East in a way that will benefit the publishing world and consumers alike.”

David Taylor: ‘Pioneering Technology and Innovation’

At BookExpo 2019 in New York City, Ingram’s Shawn Morin, left, and Sharjah Book Authority’s Ahmed Al Ameri sign the new agreement for Lightning Source’s new print-on-demand facility at Sharjah Publishing City, with John Ingram on hand. Image: Sharjah Book Authority

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Sharjah Publishing City was opened by Sheikh Sultan during Sharjah International Book Fair in 2017 and comprises a facility of more than 40,000 square meters. Its offices and operational spaces have been renting since then to various publishing-related companies and enterprises, as the concept of its free-trade hub for the region came together.

The announcement in 2019 that Ingram would indeed be coming in as the over-arching anchor tenant of this new facility was a major one: many commercial and creative parties interested in Sharjah’s development as the United Arab Emirates’ leading emirate in book publishing have watched for the fulfillment of Ingram’s plan to place its print-on-demand installation at Sharjah Publishing City.

David Taylor, the London-based senior vice-president at Ingram for content acquisition, is quoted today, saying, “The creation of this facility is a significant development for the book trade within this region.

“It will bring pioneering technology and innovation to the forefront of meeting consumer demands in a rapidly growing and important part of the world.

David Taylor

“Ingram works with tens of thousands of publishers from around the world and is trusted with many millions of their titles in our Lightning Source print on demand supply model.

“The Sharjah operation will be an additional distribution option for our publishers and there’s great excitement about the potential. We’re excited to work with our publishers, retailers and others to enable them to use the power of print-on-demand to facilitate global distribution in powerful new ways through this joint venture.”

And this new announcement caps a big month for Sharjah Book Authority and the emirate, which reports an attendance of 1.69 million at its 2021 Sharjah International Book Fair, the 11-day run of which was preceded by the largest-yet professional programs for this fair, a three-day trade-show event with more than 500 book-publishing professionals in place.

This was the 40th iteration of the fair and it opened what will be a year of observances and celebrations of the United Arab Emirates’ 50th jubilee.

At the 2017 opening of Sharjah Publishing City, Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi is flanked, left, by Ahmed Al Ameri, chair of Sharjah Book Authority, and on the right by Sharjah’s crown prince, the Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi. Image: Sharjah Publishing City

More from Publishing Perspectives on Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates’ publishing market is here, and more on Sharjah Publishing City is here. More from us on Ingram Content Group is here, more on Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on Sharjah International Book Fair is here, and more on publishing’s trade shows, book fairs, and festivals is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.