11th Publishers Conference in Sharjah calls for collective action and increased dialogue to fuel post-COVID recovery
SHARJAH, 31st October, 2021 – In the lead up to the 40th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), diverse voices representing the global publishing industry have come together for the 11th edition of the three-day Publishers Conference to network and unite industrywide efforts to build a roadmap for post-pandemic recovery.
Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), in partnership with the International Publishers Association (IPA) at Expo Centre Sharjah, the three-day conference began on Sunday, 31st October, highlighting the need for stronger stakeholder collaboration and cooperation.
In a keynote address, Bodour Al Qasimi, President of IPA, reiterated their commitment to help support publishers emerge stronger from the pandemic.
“As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of the IPA this year, we are reminded of its long-standing role in giving a voice to publishers around the world”, said Al Qasimi, recounting the role IPA has played, not just during global crises but throughout history, to address key issues, such as protection of copyrights, freedom to publish and the development of literacy, which affect industry stakeholders worldwide.
Referring to IPA discussions, in context of Covid-19 over the past 18 months, Bodour Al Qasimi said, “We want to enhance multi-stakeholder cooperation and strengthen solidarity between each.
This is why the IPA worked with many partners to develop the International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience Plan, also known as the Inspire Plan.
More than 50 publishing stakeholders have already committed to collaborating on its 10 objectives, following its recent launch.
“We hope to see more trade organisations endorse the Plan during the Sharjah International Book Fair, and strengthen our chance of a strong recovery through collective action and increased dialogue”, the IPA President added.
Bodour Al Qasimi also reiterated to the conference attendees that IPA is working with different partners to help bridge the skills gap through the launch of IPA Academy.
Upon its launch, “The Academy will offer online masterclasses in multiple languages to all our members, which will help bridge the skills gap, and help our members adapt to rapidly changing readership and consumer behaviour trends,” Al Qasimi noted.
Welcoming participants to the conference, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, SBA Chairman, reflected on Sharjah’s exemplary human-centric journey of development, as envisioned by H.
Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
“In 2001, the world agreed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and in 2015, the United Nations announced the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The vital sectors of growth as identified by these Goals included health, education, services and food security.
I suggest putting the publishing sector on this list, too, as it fulfills functions vital to life and progress, and paves the way for coordinated action to strengthen and elevate the entire publishing ecosystem,” added Al Ameri.
Yuliia Кozlovets, Coordinator of the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kiev, Ukraine, noted, “Even before Covid-19, Ukraine’s publishing industry was facing several challenges.
During the lockdown, we launched a programme for Ukrainian writers abroad.
This year, we organised the Book Arsenal Festival in an online format, applying the lessons we learned during the pandemic.
How should we be organising book festivals in the new normal? The physical presence of publishers at a book fair, the reader’s interaction with books – these are vital to the industry’s growth prospects, but are currently a challenge for us to execute safely.
I am, therefore, extremely inspired by the Inspire Plan because it addresses common challenges faced by the publishing industry worldwide, and at the same time looks into individual roadblocks.
The Plan brings us closer together in addressing these issues collaboratively and cohesively, making sure no one is left behind.