Sharjah Publishers Conference: 971 Applicants From 92 Markets

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Two ‘in conversation’ executive events and eight panel discussions are part of a 33-speaker Sharjah Publishers Conference this year.

International Publishers Association president Bodour Al Qasimi speaks at the October 20 ‘Spotlight on Africa’ presented by IPA and the African Publishing Innovation Fund at Frankfurter Buchmesse. On Sunday, her keynote address leads the agenda in the 12th Sharjah Publishers Conference. Image: Nabs Ahmedi

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

Three Days of Business Programming and Trading
As Sharjah International Book Fair‘s 12th annual Sharjah Publishers Conference is readied for its Sunday opening (October 30), organizers at Ahmed Al Ameri‘s Sharjah Book Authority have released details of the agenda for the three-day conference.

The setting is once again anticipated to see the performance and presentation area adjacent to Sharjah’s huge trading floor, and will field 33 speakers in eight panel discussions and two keynote fireside chats at Expo Center Sharjah. This program, growing annually in reputation and attendance, this year drew participation requests from 971 publishing houses, literary agents, and rights professionals based in 92 countries.

Sharjah’s program has enjoyed a friendly rivalry in the last year with Frankfurter Buchmesse for numbers of trading professionals, with Frankfurt seeing a sold-out Literary Agents and Scouts Center last week at more than 450 tables and at least 300 agencies represented. Organizers say there were between 8,000 and 10,000 trade-visitor arrivals at the “LitAg” for meetings last week.

In turn, Sharjah’s organizers today write, “Especially after emerging as the largest book fair in the world in 2021 in terms of buying and selling copyrights, Sharjah’s continuous efforts to boost the sector through its participation in international book fairs and conferences and networking with international publishing houses under the umbrella of Sharjah Book Authority have further bolstered the pivotal role of the Publishers Conference in accelerating the development of this vital industry.”

Mansour Al Hassani

In Sharjah, each conference day’s afternoon is left open for rights meetings and in some cases, rights pros have been known to be at their tables before the morning conference sessions had started. Mansour Al Hassani, director of publisher services at Sharjah Book Authority, is quoted today (October 26), saying that in line with the concept of Sharjah’s author-emir, the Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the Publishers Conference “assumes greater significance as a platform for regional and international publishers to network, discover, learn, and find innovative ways to forge a new phase of growth”

When the public-facing book fair itself opens on November 2, Italy will be its guest of honor.

Day One: October 30

Ahmed Al Ameri

And so it is that the Italian market will lead the way in the first panel on Sunday, following welcoming comments from Al Ameri and a keynote address from Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the founder of the Kalimat Group, the Kalimat Foundation, and PublisHer network.

Bodour’s comments are to bring together observations of various synergies that have become apparent to her during her two-year pace-setting IPA presidency, the programmatic and policy emphases of which have included sustainability, diversity and inclusion, freedom to publish, literacy, and reading promotion.

Jacks Thomas

The “Guest of Honor Spotlight” session at 10:30 a.m. GST will feature insights into Italy with:

  • LeeAnn Bortolussi -rights manager at Editore Giunti
  • Carlo Gallucci – publisher at Editore Carlo Gallucci
  • Marco Sbrozi – editorial director with Hoepli
  • Moderator Jacks Thomas, guest director of the Bologna Book Plus program at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and previously the director of London Book Fair

Italy, is in fact, the 2024 guest of honor market at Frankfurter Buchmesse, and was just represented last week by 147 exhibitors in Frankfurt last week.

Saleh Chebaro

At 11:45 a.m. GST, the program turns to “Digital Publishing in the Arab World: How Are Arab Publishers Embracing the Digital Landscape and Who Are the Major Players?” with:

  • Salah Chebaro, Neelwafurat, Lebanon
  • Ali Abdelmoneim Mohamed Ahmed, digital publishing consultant with Liberty Educatio, UK, Egypt, UAE
  • Doha Al Refae, Rufoof.com, Jordan
  • Khaled Ababneh, Almotahida Education Group, Jordan
  • Moderator Eman Hylooz, Abjjad, Jordan

Nathan Hull

“Audiobook Publishing in Emerging Markets” is a  session set for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, with:

  • Ama Dadson of AkooBooks, Ghana
  • Govind Deecee of DC Books, India
  • Beatrice Lin, of  Co.Mint Inc., based in South Korea
  • Moderator Nathan Hull, Beat Technologies, working with AkooBooks on its new platform development

A short session, “How to Apply to the Sharjah International Book Fair Translation Grant,” will be led from 1:15 to 1:30 p.m. by Mariam Al Ali. The Sharjah grant program is worth a total US$300,000 in support of translated publication and is available only to participants in the Publishers Conference.

Day Two: October 31

Karine Pansa

In one of two premiere “in-conversation” events, Karine Pansa will speak onstage with  Bonnier Book (UK) CEO Perminder Mann.

Pansa, of course, is Al Qasimi’s successor to the presidency of IPA and shares with Al Qasimi and Mann a keen interest in “building a more inclusive publishing industry.” Many in the International Publishers Association–including former president Michiel Kolman–have made a serious effort to place diversity, equality, and inclusion among the IPA’s key priorities.

Perminder Mann

In their discussion at 10 a.m. GST, Mann and Pansa will discuss pathways to inclusivity and options the publishing industry can use to “break down barrier to ensure it attracts people from all backgrounds.” In discussion from the Sharjah organizers about the Pansa-Mann exchange, we read, “As a
publishing leader, Mann is dedicated to growing the business of Bonnier Books UK by publishing books for everyone.

“Join Mann and Pansa in discussion to hear Mann talk about her passion and tireless efforts to ensure that her company culture is as inclusive as possible, from the way the company recruits to how they commission and publish.”

Tarik El Slaiki

“Publishing in North Africa” at 10:30 a.m. then looks at the multilingual expanse of the Maghreb, and features:

  • Tarik El Slaiki, Slaiki Publishing, Morocco
  • Hafed Boujmail, Nervana Publishing, Tunisia
  • Hassane Bennamane, Dar Al Omah, Algeria
  • Moderator Wafaa Thabet Mezghani, a publishing consultant, children’s writer, and editor, Tunisia

Carla Herbertson

At 11:45 a.m. GST, Publishing Perspectives will moderate a special look at “New Forms of Content Licensing,” with speakers from two companies in the children’s content sphere and one from the scholarly and academic international powerhouse:

  • Carla Herbertson, Small Audio, United Kingdom
  • Michael Beckett, Miko, a robot, United Kingdom
  • Julie Attrill, Wiley, United Kingdom
  • Moderator Porter Anderson, Publishing Perspectives, United States

Daihei Shiohama

And at 12:30 p.m., “The Growing Global Market for Manga and Webtoon” will look at comics and graphic artistry and storytelling from Japan and South Korea, with:

  • Kevin Hamric, Viz Media, United States
  • Daihei Shiohama, Media Do International, Japan
  • JuYoun Lee, Yen Press, United States
  • Essam Bukhary, Manga Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Moderator Kuo-yu Liang, consultant, United States

Day Three: November 1

Markus Dohle

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, we announced on October 10 an onstage conversation at the Sharjah Publishers Conference between Bodour Al Qasimi and Markus Dohle, worldwide CEO of Penguin Random House.

That conversation, now titled “Bertelsmann, Books, and Bono,” is scheduled to open the third and final day of the conference at 10 a.m. GST, bringing together two of the best-known leadership figures in world publishing.

Shereen Kreidieh

The Al Qasimi-Dohle talk will be followed at 10:30 a.m. GST by a session sure to draw a lot of interest: “The Future of the Supply Chain.” The panel in this discussion of the cost of doing business today in publishing and some of the most persistent barriers to reliable and affordable operations is to feature:

Gvantsa Jobava

At 11:45 a.m. GST, “Promoting a Nation’s Literature for Translation” will focus on various approaches to international visibility for a market’s content, with:

  • Zanete Pasqualini, literary projects manager and agent, Latvian Literature Platform
  • Sarah Hemens, project director, New Books in German
  • Gvantsa Jobava, IPA’s vice-president-elect and head of international projects for Tbilisi’s Intelekti Publishing in the Republic of Georgia
  • Moderator Catriona Ferguson, director of the New Zealand Publishers Association

Cyrus Kheradi

And at 12:30, the conference program’s final event is a “Global vs. Local” discussion of the value and potential of “sister companies” in the world industry, with:

  • Cyrus Kheradi, Penguin Random House, United States
  • Kevin Hanson, Simon & Schuster, Canada
  • Ananth Padmanabhan, HarperCollins India
  • Seth Russo, consultant, United States

On November 2, then, after the conclusion of the Publishers Conference, the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair will open, reportedly with 2,213 publisher-exhibitors from 95 countries.

Follow Publishing Perspectives for updates and developments from Sharjah and the United Arab Emirates throughout the conference and the opening days of the fair.


More from Publishing Perspectives on Sharjah Publishers Conference is here,  more on Sharjah Book Authority and its programming is here, more on Penguin Random House is here, more on the just closed 2022 edition of Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on publishing trade shows, book fairs and conferences internationally is here.

Our Frankfurter Buchmesse Show Magazine now is out for our entire readership in a free digital download for our world readership online. The magazine originally appeared in print on the Messe Frankfurt as Frankfurt Book Fair opened October 19.

The magazine has extensive coverage of issues and trends that are leading discussions and debates at the trade show this year, along with interviews, profiles, and commentary in this strongly attended Frankfurt year. Click here for your download (PDF).

Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s global media partner.

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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (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.

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