“Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word.” Join us for BookExpo America in New York.

BookExpo America announces speaker list for Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word

The most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and the international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato

 Norwalk, CT, April 2, 2014:  The digital revolution and the new global dynamics in the book trade have re-invented and re-invigorated the translation market.   Authors like Scandinavian crime writers Stieg Larsson or Jo Nesbo have become global brands.  Established US publishers, as well as many new companies and ventures, build their profiles and programs around translations, bringing literature from around the world and across many languages to American readers. With the help of digital distribution and Internet based social communities of readers, innovative bridges are being be built, creating a new connected environment.   For example, English and Spanish speaking audiences are sharing books, readers and authors as never before.

In a world summit focused on the professional issues and opportunities related to books in translation, BEA’s Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will open a one day conference on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, to explore how these new opportunities can be turned into new business for authors, agents, publishers and translators.  In addition, a dedicated Translation Market pavilion and stage on the BEA show floor will be open during the exhibit show days (Thursday, May 29 – Saturday, May 31), offering publishers a new and low priced format for matchmaking and promoting translated books as well as grants and sponsorships for translations.

“This is the most ambitious and most senior line up of industry voices from the US and international community that we have ever welcomed to our global event”, says BEA show director Steve Rosato.  “The fact that so many leaders are contributing their time and talent not only validates our efforts but it underscores how rapidly and significantly the translation business is developing.”

Speakers will include executives from the US Big Five publishers, including Carol Brown Janeway of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; John Siciliano of Penguin; as well as representatives from independent presses, including Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions, and Sal Robinson of Melville House.

Several successfully translated authors will be adding their perspective, including internationally acclaimed bestselling writer Joel Dicker, whose The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair will be released in the US at the time of BEA.  Additionally, Marcos Giralt Torrente, the preeminent Spanish author of many books, most notably The End of Love, will also be participating in this year’s forum.  Mr. Giralt Torrente will have three of his books released in English to the US market from three different publishing ventures within a span of 18 months including books from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, McSweeney’s, and Hispabook.      

New opportunities for translations will be discussed, including ways to reach into the huge Spanish language market; significant new translation grants and awards will also be examined and discussed, such as the Russian initiative ReadRussia and its new “Read Russia English-language Prize”, which will be awarded at the time of BEA in New York.  New publishing ventures which specialize in translation, such as the New Vessel Press, will also be the subjects of analysis and discussion.   

The topics and speakers for the Global Market Forum 2014: Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word will be further extended and broadened by members of its own advisory board which includes:  Esther Allen, translator and Associate Professor at the Baruch College, City University of New York; Maria Campbell of Maria B. Campbell Associates; Susan Bernofsky of the Columbia University School of the Arts; Susan Harris of Words Without Borders; Susie Nicklin of the British Marsh Agency; and Ricky Stock of the German Book Office in New York.

The GMF Books in Translation; Wanderlust for the Written Word program has been curated by Rüdiger Wischenbart, director of foreign affairs for BookExpo America.  BEA’s initiative on behalf of the Translation Market pavilion will be a permanent feature following the Global Market Forum of 2014, where players from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sharjah (UAE), Spain and the US have signed up as exhibitors.

The Global eBook Report update fall 2013 is out: How ebooks are confronting the global with the local in international publishing

How ebooks are confronting the global with the local in international publishing

The Global eBook report provides an overview of internationally emerging ebook markets, with a unique set of data from a wide array of the best available sources, a thorough analysis and a synopsis of key global developments and a broad set of detailed references to both global and local actors, forming a resource for anyone interested in the globalization of digital (book) content production and dissemination.

The report offers a status on the US and UK markets as well as close ups on ebook markets as they take shape across Europe, Brazil, China, India, Russia, and in the Arab world.  Thematic chapters focus on critical policy debates and on key driving forces, notably ebook bestsellers and pricing strategies across European markets, self-publishing, government regulation, piracy, and the expanding activities of the leading global players such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo. Fundamental statistics on the more mature ebook markets in the US and UK serve as benchmarks, to help with the evaluation of data from all other market developments.

Key findings

Ebooks have become the most relevant driver for growth in international publishing markets, yet confronting local players and traditions with often overwhelming competition from a few global actors, notably Amazon and Apple. In the two largest ebook markets, the United States and the United Kingdom (both with a market share for ebooks of around 20% of trade sales, and 30% in fiction), the increase has plateaued. In the UK, in 2012, thanks to ebook sales, losses in print could be compensated from digital. But everywhere across continental Europe, readers have started to embracing ebooks, notably in fiction. Publishers in Germany see up to 15% of revenues from new fiction titles to coming from digital, while various surveys report overall ebooks as contributing between 7 and 9%. Other markets, like France, Spain or Italy, see a continuous expansion of ebooks, in tandem with a growing penetration of devices, and tablets gaining over e-readers.

To assess trends and developments, more detailed observations, as documented throughout the Global eBook report, become more relevant though.

In the US, over 1,000 ebook titles had sold over 25,000 each by the end of 2012. In France, at 3.1% of market share for ebooks in 2012, one out of five readers says to have already read an ebook. In Sweden and Italy, hard DRM is not the best choice anymore for most publishers. On the crisis stricken Spanish book market, ebooks are taking off faster than elsewhere in Europe, with the most massive discounts against print in Europe.

Pricing is a strategic and complex issue altogether. Aside from summarizing recent legal debates in the US over the “agency model”, the Global eBook reports tracks the huge differences, and contradictory developments with regard to the cost of an ebook in different markets.

2013 witnesses a boom in both new startups – from specialized ebook publishers to new ebook community and streaming sites – to new alliances of major local players, aiming at confronting the takeover of their markets by the global giants Amazon and Apple. The Tolino platform in Germany has brought together the two leading book chains with a leader in telecommunication, similar to the Spanish Nubico, formed of the largest book club (and publisher) with a telco network.

Also in China, consortia between publishing and bookselling groups with networks emerge by bringing together the strongest domestic players, to limit the inroads from abroad. From France to Brazil to the US, the ebook platform Kobo is forming partnerships with local book chains and independents, to form alternatives to notably a predominance of Amazon.

Almost everywhere, market developments are complemented by controversial policy debates and regulatory efforts, thus emphasizing the deep impact of ebook developments on all aspects of the business and the culture of books and reading.


BookwireCopyright Clearance CenterKlopotek

Media Partners

The Global eBook report can dwell for research and dissemination on a unique network of media partners, including Book Dao (China), Book Industry Magazine (Russia), buchreport (Germany), Dosdoce (Spain), Livres Hebdo (France), Svensk Bokhandel (Sweden), Publish News (Brazil), Publishers Weekly (USA), The Bookseller (United Kingdom) as well as the Frankfurt Academy / ConTec conference.

How and where to get the Global eBook report

The Global eBook report is available in ePub, PDF and Mobi (Kindle) formats, for download at all major ebook platforms, and through direct links from www.global-ebook.com .

From October 1st until 31st, 2013, the download is free of charge.
From November 1st, 2013 on, the report will cost € 29.95.



BookExpo America prepares “Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word” program for 2014

BookExpo America focuses on “Books in Translation: Wanderlust for the Written Word” in 2014, and we are proud to serve as program coordinator for this new edition of the “Global Market Forum” in New York City.

On May 28, 2014, a series of professional panel debates will explore how translations can take advantage of today’s hugely expanding possibilites of the international book industry, as BEA’s press release has it:

Books throughout history have been the vehicle for ideas and stories that transcend geography and cultures, reaching audiences far beyond a native land or language. Globalization and digitization bring new forces that are re-inventing the book trade and extending the possibilities for translations.

Partners to the BEA Global Market Forum will include the Literary Translation at Columbia Writing Program, PEN World Voices, Open Letter Press at the University of Rochester, the Association of Author Representatives (AAR), American Literary Translators Association, Art of Translation in San Francisco as well as representatives of international markets promoting their countries’ literature in the US.

Find the press release here.

Read Russia at BookExpo America in New York: How globalisation works for the book industry (and culture)

A little tired I am, I admit, and spent hours just, at first, pointlessly wandering around at the New York West Side (yes, where the wonderful Musical by Lenny Bernstein was set), to wind down from 4 days of most compact talking and looking, and listening, and interacting.

Working for BookExpo America now since 2003, this was the biggest story, and the most stunning success: Read Russia – helping to bring 260 Russians to New York, publishers, booksellers, librarians, writers, wizzards, consulting to all sides about the program, networking, making this happen, and now, also, celebrating the big event. An adventure.

See, from left to right, Svetlana Adjubai from Academia Rossica, John Siciliano of Penguin, Peter Mayer of Overlook, and Morgan Entrekin of Grove Atlantic, flooded with questions after their panel (which was moderated by Ed Kasinec, librarian emeritus of Columbia and NYPL.

The hour before I have had the pleasure to host the CEOs of the 2 largest Russian publishing houses, Oleg Novikov of Eksmo, and Yuri Deikalo of AST, who as a surprise notice, announce the merger of those houses (which had been reported exclusively at this www.BookLab.info!) – which will genuinely re-shuffle all of Russian publishing.

The massive interest of ALL major US / global actors for the Russian guests, which resulted in a long line of business meetings that had started already 6 weeks ago at the London Book Fair, was not all though.

Read Russia also has been all over New York, with literature and culture. They have a gorgeous exhibitione on children’s book illustrations on display downtone in  Tribecca, and we could assist at a lavish performance of readings of Pushkin’s peoms, at his birthday yesterday, at the Russian Consulate on the Upper East side. In between a literary soirée at the New York Public Library, readings of some 30 writers all over the city (including controversial voices indeed – see www.readrussia2012.com , when Natalya, the widdow of late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, spoke on the legacy on the writer’s archive, which is currently digitized together with Yale University (which called in even David Remnik, the editor of  The New Yorker).

For me, I admit, the most exciting part was the making of  this vast program, over the past 2 years, including meeting and on the US side also actively bringing in all thosevoices).

I willblog, over the coming weeks and months, on Russia and other emerging markets here. and twitter at @wischenbart about it. Please join me for alerts.

Nevertheless, I must admit that I also had a wide open EAR at BEA for a much different couple, Patti Smith interviewing Neil Young.

No more words about this.

I suspect however, that thatone Russian instigator, who had thought out all of this, and who had toured previously Mick Jagger around Moscow, and without whom  all this would have not have happened, and, more importantly, the preparations wouldn’t have been half so exciting and not a quarter so fun, Vladimir Grigoriev, will have also a story to tell about Patty and Neil. While my old buddy Peter Kaufmann smiles.

Thanks to all.

Join us at LBF for the IPA seminar “Global Publishing Markets: Trends & Developments”


To attend a session at the London Book Fair to discuss international statistics and perspectives of publishing markets

Monday, April 16, 2012, 10:00 to 11:00 am
Thamse Room (Earls Court, level 1)


In 2011, the International Publishers Association (IPA) launched an initiative to survey “Global Publishing Markets”, and contracted Rüdiger Wischenbart Content for the research. The London Book Fair and BookExpo America contribute to the effort as partners & sponsors.

At this seminar we will present updated findings on markets worldwide, discuss methodology & key data sources and parameters, as well as analyze notably how exports statistics and other data can help in assessing data-poor regions.

This is also the opportunity to cordially thank all colleagues and partners for their kind and critical input and support of this study!

Packed room for debating the global ranking of publishing at Frankfurt

The first debate of industry leaders, based on the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, found an audience of over 150 publishing professionals at the first day of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010.

Debate on the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Debate on the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Co-organized by Livres Hebdo, buchreport, Publishers Weekly and The Bookseller, and kicked off with some key findings of the Global Ranking that we research every year since 2007, top executives of five major actors in this field discussed where in their view publishing is heading for.

With Jesús Badenes, Managing director books of Planeta, Peter Field, CEO Penguin, UK, Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO of Simon & Schuster and Pascal Zimmer, Managing director, Libri, Germany, the stage was well set for a broad panorama.

Together, these speakers could cover many of the major markets of this industry at first hand experience, notably Germany France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, the UK and the USA – representing together well over two thirds of the global turnover of publishing. The focus was put on the impact of the difficult economic environment, the perspctives of digital and how roles of publishers, retail and agents are confronting change.

There was a quite surprising consensus on a cautious optimistic outlook for the economic side of the business, based on the hope that the coming high season around christmas may see a recovery after two mostly strenuous years.

E-Books are considered by now as just an integral part of the book business – or ‘just one more edition of a work, according to Peter Field, yet in its early stages, where it is still open to understand where the digital replaces, or cannibalizes, the printed, at lower retail prices, thus c hanging the economics quite a bit (Carolyn Reidy).

Everybody underlined efforts necessary to stabilize this new market segment (e.g. Teresa Camisi, describing the huge differences betwee stable French, and a turbulent Italian market where the prize of a book released on Monday may have already changed by the following Firday), which was also set apart from the turbulences as seen in the music industry, because books are just different from other forms of content. (Jesús Badenes)

Everybody was fond of the so called ‘agency model’, with the publisher setting the retail price, and not the retailer. And while the explosion of available titles through publishing on demand, or self publishing, not only in the USA, but in Europe just as well is seen as one key driver of change in this industry (Pascal Zimmer), there is still a solid role for publishers with their knowhow on bringing authors to their audiences.

The complete ranking here (1.2 MB)

The presentation with key findings of the ranking is for download here.

Livres Hebdo here and here

buchreport here

The Bookseller here

Publishing Perspectives here

Xinhua here

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2010: Join us at the Frankfurt Book Fair for a debate with industry leaders on facts, trends and outlooks

The Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry 2010:
Facts, Trends, Outlook.
Industry leaders discuss the business of publishing today

Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 14:30 – 16:00
Frankfurt Book Fair, hall 4.2, Room Dimension
Organiser: Livres Hebdo with buchreport, Publishers Weekly and The Bookseller.

What is the state of the publishing industry? What are the powerhouses, what the strategies and the perspectives for winning the game of change? How is the complex relationship between publishers and retail evolving in a landscape of changing roles?
Based on the empirical evidence as presented by the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry for the fourth year in a row, top representatives of leading global trade publishing and retail groups discuss where the business is going.
Two years into the financial crisis as well as into the take off of e-Books, the consolidation and the globalization of the business, as well as the challenges and opportunities from digital innovation are on top of everyone’s agenda.
But what does this mean, really?
Initiated in 2007 by the French book trade magazine Livres Hebdo, and co-published by buchreport (Germany), Publishers Weekly (US), and The Bookseller (UK), the Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry is updated annually and has been researched by Rüdiger Wischenbart Content and Consulting.
In cooperation with the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Jesús Badenes, Managing director books, Planeta
Peter Field, CEO Penguin, UK
Carolyn Reidy, President and CEO, Simon & Schuster
Pascal Zimmer, Managing director, Libri, Germany

Moderated by Fabrice Piault and Rüdiger Wischenbart

The beat – and the business – of news media in the digital era ahead.

The Future Face of Media: Business Models for the Digital Era.

Frankfurt, May 18, 2010.

It was great fun and highly inspiring to moderate two panels with top media leaders on the “Future of news and news publishing” in Frankfurt organized by Mark Schiffhauer for the Maleki Group.

Rona Fairhead, Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff, Wall Street Journal Europe, Arthur O. Sulzberger, The New York Times.

Rona Fairhead, Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff, Wall Street Journal Europe , Arthur O. Sulzberger, The New York Times.

The prestigious group of speakers at the panels included the publishers of many of the top newspaper and agency brands globally and in Germany, notably Rona Fairhead of the Financial Times, Andrew Langhoff of the Wall Street Journal Europe, Arthur Sulzberger of The New York Times, Laurent Joffrin of Libération, Chris Ahern, of Thomson Reuters, Katharina Borchert of Spiegel Online, Christoph Keese of Axel Springer, Malte von Trotta of dpa, Google’s Kay Oberbeck, Hessische radio news editor Katja Marx, and old Perlentaucher chum Thierry Chervel (with Robin Meyer Lucht as my co-host).

What we learned was perhaps not the big surprises, but a first class survey of firsthand accounts of where several of the very top global media brands are set to go from this point – and that we most likely are at the crossroads, really.

There is not the one true model for the digital era ahead, was the gospel of NYTimes’ Sulzberger. But media (aka newspapers) need to be experimental, engage with readers, develop – and keep – their brand promise (“If we lose it, we are lost” – Langhoff of WSJEurope). “Information wants to be expensive”, according to Fairhead, FT, so introducing metering models and building pay walls is the way to go for everybody, at least at the top end of those media brands. And sure, everybody on the panel was excited about the closed system proposed by Apple’s iPad, which allows to retain exclusive control over a media’s brand, content and payments. This sweet promise appears to have triggered instant decisions to investing significant money for the development of dedicated services and formats for the new platform (e.g. at Axel Springer).

Really stunning was the overall optimistic outlook of almost everybody on the stage. The “religious wars” have been declared to be over (Langhoff). Reuters has hired 200 journalists as of last year (Ahearn) to develop high quality, notably for exclusive new interactive services for a post TV era elite, to be branded “Reuters Insider”.

“Citizen journalism” was remembered coolly as yesterday’s challenge. Solid professional quality journalism was declared to be the frontier of the future.

It was much harder though to find clear statements on the requirements for this good journalism to take off. So far, at least in Germany, “agenda setting” from the “crowd” – or twitter, blogs, anonymous voices from out there – are considered as a rare exception to the rule, while the main brands still rule – said at least the voices from the main brands. However, we desperately need a debate on the quality of journalism today and tomorrow (said Borchert of Spiegel Online).

While everybody seemed to nod at such good intentions, it was less obvious who would spend new money on the new journalism’s digital rise, aside from the recently formed 800 pound gorilla of Thomson Reuters (with its 12,997 million $ of revenue at an operating profit of 1,575 $ – this is really big global media!).

And your moderator – me – was criticized, a bit, by labeling some of the less innovative, less aggressive established media companies’ attitude to be “aristocratic” when they expected that the new entrants should politely knock at their doors (von Trotta, dpa, commenting on Google’s attitude).

Of course, bloggers and twitterers from the audience objected to the big media brand’s optimism, not only by pointing to poor salaries paid for most of today’s online journalism. They also deplored the more and more closed walls of those behemoths represented at the panel.


NYTimes Sulzberger, the natural born leader of the panels’ pack, and Borchert of Spiegel Online, Germany’s youthful, bright and dangerously smiling new front runner in the digital rat race, both insisted that the future may be wide open for everybody who is prepared to move their bottoms vigorously, ready to learn, play pathfinder, take risk – and start all over again every other day.

But disregarding all the optimism which was displayed by the leaders, one other thing was made clear as well: The land ahead ain’t no level playing field. It won’t be offering the same rewards to all, to the many, be they big, medium or small. Instead, there will be winners – and losers – indeed.

Past the religious wars of who’s right – in the trenches of the past five years or so – a hardly original split seems to lay ahead, and the current economic crises will certainly highlight the differences ever more radically:

The landscape ahead – seen from some kind of ‘Moses angle’, knowing that there is a promised digital land out there, yet not knowing exactly who will be allowed to settle in this land, and who is to go away before, in the painful process of finding this land – will be not only highly fragmented, but cascaded.

The boldest of the top media brands go for it in full force, massively investing money and gathering talent now – yet mostly organizational talent, and less often additional talented journalists. They combine muscle now with propositions and guts, so it is only reasonable to expect that some of them will make it, and even make it well.

On the other hand, the crowd out there is nothing less than opaque, or homogenous, in a solitarian “us vs. them” scheme. The crowd includes new entrants and new outcasts, new cowboys and new Indians. And of course, many within the big media fortresses are, at the same time, part of the crowd, as they connect and interact on all available channels, they facebook and twitter and blog and link.

But only a few from the crowds “out there” will be able to end up with a bottom line written in black ink, from providing profitable services, or by leveraging on their digital exposure with other chargeable services, directly or indirectly, from their writing and taping and aggregating and editing. Some will positively do so as niche players in the crowd, yet most will not.

The middle ground, or the majority of actors who used to form the core of “diversity” in the classical media, the local and regional newspapers and radio stations, were only marginally represented in the room and, if so, critically addressed in their desperate lobbying for life saving government regulation, as it is currently proposed in Germany or in France (as ‘Leistungsschutzrecht’, or ‘publisher’s rights’). Their actions will most likely produce some results, but perhaps this is more about buying time, than entering a new safe haven for the long term future.

Personally, I was most comforted – which I had not expected – by realizing that good journalism, broad and in depth coverage, nuances and diversity of angles and opinions seem to have many more realistic perspectives than one would assume from listening to most similar debates over the past few years.

But for those young aspirants who plan to take up such journalism as their profession and career, this is going to be a tough choice. The news and information business will be probably more competitive than ever. Competition will occur between all layers and factions, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, local and global, bringing about a profession that will be unforgiving for most.

At least for most of Europe, such strains will mean a deep change of a professional culture which used to be traditionally based more on a vocation and shared values, than on a struggle for survival. But it will have “manna” on offer for some – the most talented, the most aggressive, or the luckiest.

And a similar pattern may be true for the readers: Top quality journalism will continue to be on offer – at a price. All kinds of information as well as opinion will be available freely as well. But fine, yet clear distinctions will be prevalent, much more than ever before, in what will be accessible by whom, how quickly, under what rules, and at what cost.

For videos of the conference see at Carta;

for Twitter summaries see here and here;

for a German summary in Perlentaucher see here:

and for the complete program see here.

Bringing Arab Books to New York @ BEA

Long time not write – but frankly, May and June so far have been a frenzy time (but now I can relax). One main cause was the ambitious project of preparing the Global Market Forum: The Arab World for BookExpo America. After test runs in previous years on the ‘global English reading’ in 2007 and on publishing in China in 2008, we had our first really broad international grip on BEA – and it was a really great success by all measures.

Amr Moussa of the Arab League and othe Dignitaries discussing the Arab World at BEA i New York

Amr Moussa of the Arab League and othe Dignitaries discussing the Arab World at BEA i New York

We had exhibitors from most of the core countries of the Arab world, including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah), an opening ceremony with Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League,

a very substantial and well attended professional program (both in number and profile of the attendees) covering topics from translation, editorial issues, childrens books, to distribution to copyright,

Arab and US book professionals listening to Sheika Budour of Sharjah presenting her children's book program

Arab and US book professionals listening to Sheika Budour of Sharjah presenting her children's book program

and for the first tim ever, a cultural program outside of the professional fair, with “New Eyes on the Arab World” at the New York Public Library,

New Eyes on the Arab World at the New York Public Library, with Raja Alem, Tom McDonough, Joe Sacco, Peter Theroux and Suleiman Hatlan

New Eyes on the Arab World at the New York Public Library, with Raja Alem, Tom McDonough, Joe Sacco, Peter Theroux and Suleiman Hatlan

bringing together a Saudi woman writer – Raja Alem – who had written, in English, with a US colleague – Tom McDonough – about Mekka, a pretty famous graphical novelist from Portland, who had extensively published in his art on Islamic countries and issues – Joe Sacco – plus probably the most renowned translator of Arab fiction in the US – Peter Theroux – with a Dubai based TV host – Suleiman Hatlan – as a moderator.

Allow me to say that rarely I was attending a panel debate that was really so lively, so personally involved and inciting so much curiosity (this is what the general audience said, not me). Oh, and you can see a live stream – here.

Back from Cairo International Book Fair – A true adventure in books

If book fairs are supposed to be still some kind of frontier, Cairo is the place to go. It is arguably the largest book fair on the planet, both in space (a huge area, with halls, shacks, walks and lawns (for pick nick), and a lot of surprise.

The Cairo book fair - a place for many and many purposes

Yet despite its 1.5 million visitors in 2 weeks – who come to shop for books, as hardly any normal bookshops exist outside Cairo, and no reliable distribution, the variety is very limited to religion, children’s educational materials, romance and a few sprinkled other books.

Cairo - book stalls

Cairo - book stall

The Cairo book fair – a place for many and for many purposes

You see large crowds, people of all strands of life, many children, religious people and laymen, ready for a discovery.

(Find an entire album of pictures from the Cairo book fair at Flickr.)

However, doing the facts on the Arab book market is sobering. Looking out for relevant data about Arab book publishing, I got introduced to Salah B. Chebaro from Beirut, Lebanon, who runs Neel Wa Furat, probably the largest online book store in the Arab world. I asked him how many titles he has on his online catalogue, and the answer is ca. 8.000. He estimates that between Lebanon and Egypt, the two main book producing countries of the region, plus Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, some 15.000 titles are currently available. The Maghreb states may add another 5.000.

New titles on display

New titles on display

So altogether, this equals roughly the output of Poland, yet Poland’s population of 38 million needs to be set into perspective to an Arab population of 200 million. The Arab Human Development Report of 2003 estimated the Arab book production at not exceeding 1.1 percent of world production.

However there is growing international interest in the Arab world’s publishing. This year, the United Kindom, helped by the British Council, is the guest of honour and brings a lot of expertise and support. In the Emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, ambitious new foundations have been set up to give a strong push and develop reading culture, translation and diversity. a few big players from Western publishing have set up shop recently in Dubai, notably Random House, Harper Collins and Bloomesbury.

And in just a few months, we will hold a “Global Market Forum: The Arab World” at BookExpo America (28 – 31 May, 2009, in New York).

Omar Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League, with Anna Swank of ArteEast, Nasser Jarrous and myself

Amre Moussa, General Secretary of the Arab League, with Anna Swank of ArteEast, Nasser Jarrous and myself

It will be inaugurated by the General Secretary of the Arab League, Amre Moussa who received us kindly.

It will be a very special event to present writers, translators, publishers and experts to explore Arab culture in New York.

With more details, both on the Arab book market – with data and ressources – and about our program at BEA to come here soon.

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