Introducing Mariam AlObeidli, the Managing Director of Kalimat Group. Over her ten-year career, Mariam has excelled across various fields including publishing, marketing, international relations, leadership, and management. Beyond being a leader, she is a dedicated mentor who has guided young professionals to success in customer-centric industries such as publishing and communications.
As the MD of Kalimat Group, Mariam leverages her profound understanding of local culture, market dynamics, and audience preferences to position the company as a regional leader in literary innovation. Her talent for crafting captivating brand narratives has garnered the attention of global stakeholders and rejuvenated the brands she's associated with.
AlObeidli’s is a skilled communicator and marketer, renowned for elevating the presence, credibility, and influence of the organisations she collaborates with. Her unwavering commitment to driving transformative change, coupled with her adeptness in navigating complex situations, has earned her a global reputation as an industry luminary.
Mariam's academic background includes a bachelor's degree from the Higher Colleges of Technology and certificates from prestigious institutions such as the Yale School of Management and the American University of Sharjah. These qualifications underscore her strategic expertise and leadership skills, further enriching her professional portfolio.
Alma Čaušević Klemenčič, CEO, Beletrina Academic Press
Alma Čaušević Klemenčič (1983) works for Beletrina, one of Slovenia’s most ambitious and innovative publishing houses, since 2013. She's been in her current role of CEO since 2016, and became CEO of the subsidiary Beletrina Digital in 2021.
Previously, she worked as a researcher, producer in culture, and as chief producer and assistant programme director of the European Capital of Culture - Maribor 2011.
(Image: Mankica Kranjec)
Christoph Bläsi, professor for book studies, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Christoph Bläsi (born 1960) is professor for book studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany (since 2009); before coming back to academia he had held senior positions in digital publishing and strategic information management of various major German publishing houses (1992-2004).
His current research areas include artificial intelligence applications in publishing, (particularly economic aspects of) educational publishing as well as cookbooks (following an approach including Digital Humanities); at the moment, he is involved in two collaborative research projects, Aldus Up, the Creative Europe-funded European Network of Bookfairs, and AuROA, a project funded by the German government on aspects of the Open Access book in the humanities and social science.
Lina Chebaro earned her masters degree in publishing studies from Oxford Brooks University in the UK, and she is currently rights director and chief editor of Arab Scientific Publishers (based in Lebanon) and of Thaqafa Publishing & Distribution (based in Abu Dhabi).
Lina is a passionate professional with wide experience in the publishing industry. She started working in publishing in 1994. At the beginning of her career, she developed women’s books, and has since gained a valuable knowledge and experience of the entire process of making books—from type-setting and printing to copyrights. Lina has attended many book fairs in Frankfurt, Beijing, London, Bologna, USA, & Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Guadalajara.
Comma Books was founded in 2010, and up to the present day, this ‘single-person publisher’ – part of a trend in Taiwan’s industry – has published more than 120 books, with literature being the main genre, accompanied by a small number of nonfiction works.
The company’s founder, Sharky Chen, says that he thinks of Comma Books as an experimental project as much as it is a publishing house.
“I want to use books to interact with society and help better the world. Additionally, I enjoy utilizing various methods like unique printing techniques, curation, stage plays, etc., to transform books from just reading materials into interactive exhibits with people.”
Comma Books has specialized in using creative approaches to marketing books seen as niche or difficult to sell, including poetry collections, classic novels, and works by emerging authors. It has consistently seen strong performance in its business model.
Chen led the establishment of Taiwan’s independent publishers’ association to encourage more people to join the indie press publishing community and to make sure their diverse voices are heard.
Kim Chongsatitwatana is CEO of Nanmeeboooks, a publisher and learning service provider in Thailand. When her mother, Suwadee, founded the company in 1992, she hoped to improve the education and quality of life for Thai people through her books. Kim and her team follow this vision and are passionate to promote lifelong reading and learning to nurture Active Citizens. Nanmeebooks has 4 segments: publishing, learning innovations, learning services and learning space. Nanmeebooks publishes about 300 new titles per year, 90% being licensed titles, 80% being children books.
Kim was born in Bangkok, went to an international school in Phuket, studied Industrial & Operation Engineering at University of Michigan and Executive MBA at Sasin School of Management in Bangkok. After her internship at Scholastic and engaging in several social projects in university, she switched plans with her sister and began her career at Nanmeebooks in 2006, instead of joining her father’s shoes company.
Kim founded Nanmeebooks Innovation Institute in 2013, which offers learning innovations like “Science Experiment Classroom” (science experiment curriculum), “Maths-Whizz” (AI-based maths online learning based on children’s Maths Age), Kiddy Intelligence Center (play-based kindergarten curriculum based on picture books) and services like camps and teacher trainings.
Kim is the secretary and board member of “Little Scientists’ House, Thailand”, a project under the patronage of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Foundation, which offers professional development on STEM education for kindergarten teachers in almost 30,000 kindergartens per year.
Kim enjoys reading, yoga, dancing and traveling. She currently lives with her husband, David Klett, and her children in Stuttgart, Germany.
Thomas Cox is an entrepreneur with a passion for new technologies including artificial intelligence (AI). He has a master's in computer science and has been working in the field of publishing technology for 20 years. Thomas is the managing director of Arq Works which specializes in software solutions for the publishing industry and has recently integrated AI into its content management and discovery tools. He is an advocate for the use of technology in publishing and is always looking for ways to improve and apply new technologies.
Hilary Fine, education development director, DK
Hilary is the global Education Development Director of DK, spearheading DK Learning, the publisher's platform and range of resources focused on serving the needs of teachers and schools. Before joining DK in 2021, she spent over 25 years in educational publishing and EdTech roles, developing educational propositions for educators and students around the world. Still to this day, Hilary feels genuine delight seeing the content she develops helping children in classrooms to reach their full potential.
Sven is the Senior Director of Knowledge Unlatched, which is a part of Wiley since December 2021. He holds a degree in European Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Political Science from Muenster University.
Prior to working with KU, Sven worked as a consultant on digitization, was the CEO of Berlin-based publisher De Gruyter and served in different functions from MD to Executive Board member at what is now SpringerNature. He is a lecturer in Library & Information Science at Humboldt University in Berlin. He lives in Berlin, Germany.
Named The Bookseller Shooting Star for 2023, Maria Garbutt-Lucero co-founded the ESEA [East & Southeast Asian] Publishing Network with Joanna Lee in 2022 and they are launching ESEA Lit Fest, the UK’s first ESEA literary festival, with Foyles on 23rd September 2023. She is Publicity Director at Sceptre/Hodder & Stoughton and has won Publishers' Publicity Circle Awards for her campaigns for East Side Voices edited by Helena Lee, Sally Rooney’s Normal People (also shortlisted for Nibbies Campaign of the Year) and Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise, and been shortlisted for five more. She co-manages Florence Welch’s online book club Between Two Books, where she recommends literary fiction and non-fiction. Since launching her Filipino supper club Baboy Club in 2018 and the mutual aid initiative #FilipinoFood4NHS in 2020, Maria has appeared on BBC1 Masterchef and her work has been featured in the Museum of London, TimeOut, Refinery29, gal-dem, Lecker Zine, CODE, the Philippine Inquirer and the Manila Bulletin. In 2021 she won the Oxford Cultural Collective’s Yan-Kit So Award for Food Writing on Asia (chaired by Fuschia Dunlop).
Matthew Gain leads the European team for Audible, An Amazon Company. Audible is the largest producer of audiobooks and other spoken word entertainment in the world; it has served millions of listeners and continues to move literate listening closer to the media and entertainment mainstream, serving millions of customers in 180 countries. It was acquired by Amazon in 2008 and is the world’s largest retailer of digital audiobooks.
Under Matthew’s leadership, Audible has expanded rapidly its member base and created and funded hundreds of original podcasts and audiobooks.
In his role Matthew is responsible for developing Audible’s business across Europe and in particular Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Prior to leading the European operations for Audible, Matthew led the APAC Region from Tokyo, Japan. In this role Matthew led the launch teams for Audible in India and Japan and built the brand in Australia into a household name.
Before, Audible Matthew was Chief Operating Officer Edelman Australia, APAC head of Digital Weber Shandwick and UK Consumer PR and Social Media Manager Microsoft.
Nathan Hull is Chief Strategy Officer at Beat Technology and takes responsibility for its international expansion. It is the the pulse within Fabel (NO), Adlibris (SE/FI), Skoobe (DE), Volume (PL), Audiotribe (RO), Fluister (NL) and AkooBooks (Africa). Before Beat, Nathan launched Bookchoice in 9 markets and was Chief Business Development Officer at Denmark’s Mofibo. Notably Nathan was also Penguin Random House’s Digital Product Director, with strategic responsibility for its award-winning digital portfolio and innovation strategy working closely with the likes of Stephen Fry, Jamie Oliver, Jeff Kinney, and Roald Dahl’s estate.
Yasmina is a PhD in Cognitive science, specializing in the relationship between culture and perception. Passionate of literature, Yasmina felt the need to build bridges between Arabic books and the rest of the world, and started the RAYA Agency for Arabic literature in 2004. She was shortlisted twice to the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards in the agency category (in 2019, and 2020).
Yasmina represents literary and upmarket fiction. Throughout the years Yasmina has succeeded in placing titles of her list in prestigious homes across the world, in over twenty languages. Two of these titles were shortlisted to the New York National Book Award, while another was shortlisted to the Internaitonal Man Booker Prize. Others have received the Naguib Mafouz Medal of Literature, the International Prize of Arabic Fiction, the PEN Pinter, PEN Tucholsky, or the French Best Book Award in Foreign literature.
Yasmina also currently works as the Publishing Manager for the MENA region at Storytel, the Swedish audio content streaming platform.
Tom Kraushaar, born in Düsseldorf in 1975, has been Publishing Director of Klett-Cotta Verlag since 2007. After training as a publishing bookseller at Suhrkamp Verlag, Tom Kraushaar studied Modern German Literature, Italian Studies and Business Administration at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2005, together with Michael Zöllner, he founded Tropen Verlag in Berlin, which is now part of Klett-Cotta.
Eduardo has worked on the Brazilian educational publishing market since 2015, leading Institucional relations and editorial planning departments. Currently is Head of Business Development at the publishing group Saber, which is part of Cogna, the biggest educational group in Brazil. Eduardo is also representative of the Brazilian Educational Publishers Association – Abrelivros, and Is the current president of the Latin American Educational Publishers Forum, part of the International Publishers Association.
Nihar Malaviya is CEO of Penguin Random House with responsibilities for the company’s more than 300 imprints spanning 21 countries across six continents. He is focused on elevating the publishing independence and creative autonomy of PRH’s imprints, and driving the creation of competitive advantages that position the company for growth.
As part of his growth strategy, Malaviya is also advancing the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion commitments and sustainability goals.
Throughout his 20-year tenure in publishing, Nihar Malaviya has spearheaded the creation of a variety of industry-first capabilities in data science, supply chain, technology, and consumer insights, as well as collaborating with colleagues around the world to reach the widest possible audience for our authors and books across multiple formats and platforms.
Rachel Martin is global director of sustainability at Elsevier, driving transformational change in sustainability and SDGs with a focus on climate action. In 2020, this resulted in the launch of the Elsevier report The Power of Data to Advance the SDGs and the launch of Elsevier’s Climate Action program which she oversees.
Since joining Elsevier in 2010, she has held various communications positions with a focus on policy and advocacy. She is also part of the team that launched the UN SDG Publishers Compact and the SDG Book Club. She represents Elsevier on several industry sustainability committees and is chair of the UK Book Industry Communication’s Green Supply Chain committee. Martin has also worked extensively on the development of guidance for medium- and small-size publishers looking to develop their own climate-crisis response programs.
Sevani Matos is president of the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL), with her term starting this year and
running to 2025. As an independent publisher, she has for more than 16 years been the general director at the publishing house VR Editora in São Paulo. She has more than 20 years of experience in
administrative and commercial fields and has worked for both national and multinational companies,
with her experience including the printing sector.
Matos holds a degree in social communication and has an MBA with a specialization in digital marketing.
Tina McIntyre, Interim Head of Global Publishing and Head of Marketing, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios
Tina McIntyre joined the former Wattpad Studios in 2020 as Interim Head of Publishing, supporting the sales, content and marketing direction for the newly launched Wattpad Books.
After the merger of Wattpad Studios and Webtoon Studios created Wattpad Webtoon Studios, McIntyre was elevated to VP, Head of Marketing overseeing the marketing strategy and direction for both the studio’s entertainment and publishing divisions. Under McIntyre’s marketing leadership, Wattpad Webtoon Studios established a franchise-focused approach to aligning marketing for the company’s publishing and entertainment projects. In May 2023, she assumed the role of Interim Head of Global Publishing | Head of Marketing. Over the past three and half years, McIntyre has been instrumental in expanding the company’s roster of imprints and growing overall sales.
A seasoned publishing executive, McIntyre previously held senior roles at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, where she spearheaded all marketing efforts for the global bestselling Twilight Saga book franchise, and Hachette Book Group.
Sean McManus, President, Dreamscape Media
Sean McManus is the president of Dreamscape Media. He’s previously held executive positions at Audible, HarperCollins, and Spotify. He's also currently serving as president of the Audio Publishers Association.
Michel S. Moushabeck is a writer, editor, translator, publisher, and musician of Palestinian descent. He is the founder of Interlink Publishing, a 36-year-old, Massachusetts-based independent publishing house specializing in fiction-in-translation, history and current affairs, illustrated children’s books, and award-winning international cookbooks.
He is the author of several books including, Kilimanjaro: A Photographic Journey to the Roof of Africa. Most recently, he co-edited the winter issue of the Massachusetts Review focusing on Mediterranean literature and contributed a piece to Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora (Edinburgh University Press). He is the recipient of NYU’s Founder’s Day Award for outstanding scholarship (1981), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Alex Odeh Award (2010) and The Palestinian Heritage Foundation Achievement Award (2011). He serves on the board of directors of Media Education Foundation and on the board of trustees of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), an annual literary prize administered by the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation.
He is also a founding member and director of the Boston-based Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble; he performs with the flamenco ensemble Fiesta Rumbera; and is a member of the jazz trio Masala Jazz. He has performed at concert halls worldwide and plays percussion on the music soundtrack of an award-winning BBC documentary on Islam, which aired as part of the series The People's Century. His recording credits include two albums: Lost Songs of Palestine and Folk Songs and Dance Music from Turkey and the Arab World. He lectures frequently on Arabic music and literature-in-translation. He plays music almost daily; is a keen mountain climber; and is a rather obsessive collector of jazz and world music, world percussion instruments, books, old maps, and contemporary art.
He has three daughters—all book editors—and lives in Leverett, Massachusetts with his longtime German partner who works at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is a leading expert on East German film.
Nadim Sadek, founder and CEO, Shimmr AI
Nadim Sadek is Founder & CEO of Shimmr AI, producing and deploying advertising for long-tail assets. An AI-native business, it focuses on Publishing, making under-monetized titles more productive, improving Publishers’ profitability, giving authors greater reach, and bringing fulfilling books to psychologically-matched readers. ‘Shimmer, don’t Shake – how Publishing can embrace AI’, was published by Mensch Publishing in September 2023.
Previously, Nadim was Founder & CEO of ProQuo AI, an AI-driven brand management platform, which proved product-market fit and created a new sector in marketing technology. Nadim was also Founder & CEO of Inish Turk Beg, a whiskey, food and music business he built on an island he acquired off the west coast of Ireland. He won a global Mobius award for creating ‘the best new brand’. Earlier, he used his degree in Psychology to found and lead what became the world’s largest qualitative market research company, Sadek Wynberg Research. This was sold to WPP, and he led two of their global networks, Millward Brown Qualitative Network, and Research International.
Nadim manages an artist, Shaefri, signed by Warner, and presents Boss Bikes Club, a Youtube motorcycle review channel. He is half-Irish, half-Egyptian, raised in Africa, Asia and Europe. He lives in London.
With a degree in Hungarian and Comparative Literature from the University of Szeged, Sárközy has worked 8 years as an editor at Magveto Publishing House between 2003-2011, the last 3 of which he spent there as editor-in-chief. In 2011, he started his own businesses. He was a co-founder of Libri Publishing Group in 2011, by this time the market leading company in Hungary where he has been working as CEO and publishing director. Libri Publishing Group publishes around 400 new titles and sells 2.5 million copies of books annually under the umbrellas of five imprints: Helikon, Jelenkor, Kolibri, Libri and Park.
David Saylor, VP, Creative Director | Publisher, Graphix / Scholastic
David Saylor is a VP and Creative Director in the Scholastic Trade Publishing Group and is the Publisher and founder of Scholastic’s groundbreaking graphic novel imprint, GRAPHIX. David is also the art director for all American editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Throughout his career, David has done a mix of art direction, design, and editing on picture books, illustrated novels, and graphic novels—and has been lucky to work with some of most well-known artists and writers in children’s books. In 2019, David was named a Carle Honors Mentor Honoree for contributions to the field of children’s literature.
Pedro Sobral, CEO, Grupo Leya
Pedro is Chief Publishing Officer and board member of LeYa, Portugal’s largest publishing house. Furthermore he has been President of APEL (Portuguese Publishers and Booksellers Association) since 2021. Pedro holds a Bachelors in Economics from Católica Business School, a Bachelors in Political Sciences from Católica Political Studies Institute and a General Management Program certificate from Harvard Business School.
Anna Soler-Pont (Barcelona, 1968) founded Pontas Literary & Film Agency in 1992, a company dedicated to the international copyright management of writers around the world (currently based in 26 countries, in the five continents). Among others, Pontas has launched or helped consolidate the international literary careers of voices such as Eka Kurniawan, Dolores Redondo and Jonas Jonasson.
(Image: Johannes Minkus)
Alessandra Sternfeld, CEO and founder, Am-Book
Alessandra Sternfeld is the CEO and founder of Am-Book, a New York-based literary agency specializing in comics, graphic novels, and illustrated books for children and adults that represents some of the most important publishers and creators in the field.
Laura Summers, director and co-founder, Bookmachine
Laura Summers is a CIM-qualified marketing professional and Director and Co-Founder of Bookmachine, the fast-growing Community and Creative Agency specialising in book publishing and education. For the last 15 years, Laura has been dedicated to the publishing industry and has built up a range of experience – from working for the largest publisher in the world to running a one-man band, and everything in between.
Melissa Wakhu is the co-founding CEO of Sol Kids Africa, and a bestselling children’s author with 12 published books on the market.
Her role as CEO of Sol Kids and collaboration with her co-founders—the Nairobi-based Afropop band—have led to several successful partnerships with organizations including the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya National Library, and the ministry of education in Rwanda.
She has more than 22 years of experience working with children in education and experiential learning. She has a background in computer science and years of work experience as a consultant with Deloitte. She’s also a certified information systems auditor (CISA) and a certified internal auditor (CIA) in research-based, human-centered and solution-oriented design, methodology, and products.
Wakhu has successfully strategized and executed literary sessions, book festivals, kids’ festivals, and fun festivals in several parts of the world, including Sol Kids Festival 2021 and 2022; monthly Sol Kids Clubs; a 2022 Story Moja reading ambassador program; and reading events in Kigali, Lagos, and Hamburg.
Several of her books have been chosen as Book of the Month selections and are considered family favorites. Among her best known titles are Towering Twiga, Funny Fisi, Written In the Stars, and Lala Land. Her expertise in curating relatable and engaging content is a key to the her work in publishing and literacy, based on her insights into learning styles, education, African heritage, and creative content.
Her skills as an artist, writer, and illustrator have been instrumental in capacity building and training, as well as in book publishing, animation, songs, jingles, and sound tracks.
Peter Warwick becomes President and CEO of Scholastic in August 2021, making him only the third CEO in Scholastic’s 101-year history. As CEO, Peter is responsible for Scholastic’s business strategy, and oversees all business segments and corporate functions. Prior to his appointment, Peter was an independent director on Scholastic’s Board for seven years (2014–2021)—a period in which the Company dramatically expanded its reach to global audiences and educators through the move into digital platforms and the creation of a number of new and innovative partnerships. While President & CEO, he continues to serve as a member of the Board of Directors.
As CEO, Peter’s focus is on carrying out the vision set forth by Dick Robinson to be the most beloved brand in children’s publishing, while continuing to strengthen the company culture and create value for shareholders through a constant focus on innovation. To the role of CEO, Peter brings extensive management and operational expertise in education publishing and in the information and media industries. Previously, Peter held several senior leadership positions at Thomson Reuters, retiring from the company in 2018 from his role as Chief People Officer. At Thomson Reuters, he led successful transformation efforts to drive growth and profitability and helped accelerate the company’s global expansion. Peter originally joined the company in 1998 when it was then the Thomson Corporation, serving as CEO of its Legal and Regulatory businesses in the APAC region. In 2000, he moved to New York to be CEO of Thomson Tax & Accounting, and in 2005, he became CEO of Thomson Legal, the company’s largest business unit.
Peter began his career at Pearson, where he spent 20 years—first in an editorial capacity, and eventually becoming CEO of the company’s professional education and information business unit.
He is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Queens Museum; President of Thomson Reuters Foundation Inc.; Treasurer of The Olana Partnership; and a member of the African Acquisitions Committee of Tate Modern.
Born in the United Kingdom, Peter received degrees in history from Bristol University and York University.
Jes Wolfe is the CEO and Chairwoman of Rebel Girls, a certified B Corporation and global multi-platform empowerment brand dedicated to helping raise the most inspired and confident generation of girls through content, experiences, products, and community. The brand's reach includes a growing community of 30 million self-identified Rebel Girls spanning more than 100 countries, more than 10 million books sold in 50 languages and 23 million audio listens. Under Ms. Wolfe’s leadership, Rebel Girls expanded its publishing and digital content library to now include thirty titles and 250 audio stories, including introducing new franchises. Additionally, she has built an omnichannel offering for girls with the Rebel Girls App, a music album, virtual and physical events, global partnerships, gaming, and consumer products.
Prior to joining the Rebel Girls team, Ms. Wolfe was the Chief Operating Officer at Hoodline, a hyper-local media tech company, which grew to 30 employees before selling to NextDoor. Previous to her segue into the startup world, Ms. Wolfe worked for over a decade in a variety of strategy and finance roles at Morgan Stanley, the Boston Consulting Group, the International Finance Corporation, and private equity portfolio companies. She has done project work in 25+ countries and 6 continents with a range of companies from startups to Fortune 500 in industries including media and technology, healthcare, finance, and industrial goods.
Ms. Wolfe is an active angel investor and advisor to a number of startups. She currently holds a portfolio of more than a dozen companies - all of which include women on the founding team. Select investments include Partake Foods, Curie, My Tamarin, 21 Seeds, Better Health, Avails Medical, Dorm Room Fund, and Mento.
Ms. Wolfe holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, where she was an Arjay Miller scholar, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She is an outdoor enthusiast and spends her free time ski mountaineering with her dog, River.
Photo: JD Renes