The '1001 Titles' initiative by Sharjah-based cultural initiative Knowledge without Borders (KwB) has used its participation at the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF 2019) to showcase its successful experience in boosting the local intellectual output of the UAE to Indian and India-based publishers.
At a panel discussion hosted as part of Sharjah’s participation as the NDWBF 2019 guest of honour, speakers Majd Al Shehhi, Manager of ‘1001 Titles’; Talal Salem, Founder of Dar Jumeirah Publishing and Distribution; and Ali Al Shaali, Founder of Dar Al-Hudhoud Publishing and Distribution, shed light on the success of the first edition of the ‘1001 Titles’ initiative manifested in the production of 1,001 first-edition Emirati titles in two years.
Al Shehhi explained how the AED 5 million initiative was launched after an extensive study on the challenges that the UAE publishing market faces, its needs and what it takes to become a local market with global dimensions.
“The initiative provides support to publishers and authors on two levels; financially to reduce publishing costs, and contextually by reviewing the book’s content quality, design and illustration to ensure that they reflect Emirati culture, particularly in children’s writings.”
She added: “We have launched the second phase, which is expected to attract more Emirati authors and publishers as they have seen how well the first edition of ‘1001 Titles’ has responded to their literary and commercial aspirations,”
She highlighted the importance of such international participations on global cultural forums, particularly book fairs, as these are a gateway for Emirati authors and publishers to discover the latest printing, distribution, illustration and design techniques available in the market.
For his part, author and publisher Talal Salem discussed his 20-year literary career and spoke about the challenges he faced when he was printing and publishing his writings individually. “When the UAE started supporting authors and publishers, it enabled us to rid ourselves of several logistical and technical burdens. Publishing a book is a long and complicated process, which includes not just printing, but negotiations, illustration, design, marketing and distribution. The ‘1001 Titles’ initiative has been instrumental to reducing the complexity of this process for both publishers and authors.”
Author and publisher Ali Al Shaali said that the support offered by cultural institutions and initiatives like ‘1001 Titles’ are instrumental to the success of Emirati authors and publishing entrepreneurs as they face tough competition in a globalised and digitally driven market. Pointing to the specific challenges faced in children’s publishing, he said: “Children’s books publishers face a plethora of challenges, including the competition by smart phones, social media, TV, cinema and a plethora of leisure and entertainment. They have to publish a book that overcomes all this competition to appeal to a child’s imagination. This is not easy.”
“1001 Titles initiative supports writers and publishers with a comprehensive system, which includes the guidance required to create quality books in terms of content and design, helping local publishers face the challenges of the global publishing market,” he added.