Sharjah: In line with its ambitions to involve all the stakeholders of the sector to set priorities and develop its 5-Year strategic plan, the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) organized a virtual brainstorming session titled, ‘The Future Prospects of Publishing’.
The virtual session by the non-profit witnessed participation from Mr. Ali Bin Hatem, President of EPA and Mr. Rashid Al Kous, Executive Director of EPA. The brainstorming session which was moderated by Mr. Hisham Al Umrani also attracted EPA board members and Emirati Publishers where they discussed the progress and development made by the Association over the last several years.
While, Mr. Hisham Al Umrani observed that EPA is expanding its plans to lead the publishing industry in the region to the next level with more promising opportunities for Emirati publishers, the EPA President pointed out the critical nature of the initiative launched by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to establish a new distribution company operating under the Association to enable local publishers expand their reach into regional and international markets with reduced operating costs and thereby promote the sustainability of the publishing sector.
EPA Executive Director, Mr. Rashid Al Kous stressed on the entity’s responsibility in generating innovative ideas to develop the UAE’s publishing industry and ensure its sustainability in discussion with decision-makers. Mr. Al Kous highlighted EPA’s mission to engage publishers in setting its priorities and defining strategic plans to advance the industry in the UAE.
The EPA Executive Director urged the participating publishers to visit the Association’s website to learn more about the entity’s comprehensive services and facilities available for its 219 members through different projects including consultancy and technical services, and to stay updated about its ongoing initiatives.
During the brainstorming session, the participating publishers shared their ideas and concerns, and discussed ways to prioritize them in EPA’s action plans. Publishers shed light to the existing logistics challenges, high shipping costs, and the need to streamline distribution of Emirati books in the Arab region.
Participants proposed the idea of receiving shipping discounts from delivery companies to facilitate the delivery of Arabic books to international markets and asked for opening of more book outlets in major shopping centers across the UAE.
Publishers cited resuming book fairs in schools and universities, launching community initiatives to promote a culture of reading by organizing workshops and publisher-led competitions, raising awareness on the escalating social media consumption and falling reading habits as critical components to the sector.
Publishers shared their individual experiences of the book selection process and highlighted how books are evaluated by a reading committee before printing to ensure the production of quality and meaningful content that meets the needs of readers.
Discussing about the impact of book piracy and plagiarism on the local publishing sector, publishers proposed the idea of collaborating with international book fairs in the Arab world to enforce intellectual property laws that would blacklist and prevent publishing houses engaged in printing or selling pirated literature from participating in book fairs.