Meet discusses kids’ book industry and publisher’s role in enhancing education
SHARJAH: The second day of the eighth Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) Publishers Conference on Tuesday saw a gathering of publishers and industry professionals from the region and the world focus on the importance of establishing a more competitive and autonomous education publishing sector, and highlighted latest trends in the Arab and international children’ s and young Adult (YA) publishing market.
The day’s proceedings rolled out with keynotes and important comments from government representatives, senior publishing ofi ci al sand industry heavy weights, Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi – Minister of Education for the UAE; Hugo Setzer, Vice President of the International Publishers Association (IPA); and Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, Executive Director for Media Affairs at the National Media Council (NMC).
During his speech, Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi said: “I would like to thank His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, for his unwavering support to boost the scientiic and cultural movement in the UAE. The Publishers Conference is a unique platform that highlights the growing need to support publishing houses and build its capacities.”
Hugo Setzer, Vice President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), emphasised the importance of building bridges and working together, saying, “Our industry is made of many parts, while not broken, are distinct and potentially there, with only a few companies succeeding in spanning across markets.”
He highlighted that the UAE is the youngest member of the IPA, and said that their challenge is to build these bridges not only with publishers, but also policy-makers, helping them be aware that policy changes may affect positively or negatively the industry in key policy objectives such as educational outcomes.
Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi noted: “This conference furthers UAE’S achievements in the cultural sector, especially in the book industry, and supports Arab publishers in a big way to keep up with latest trends, network, and expand globally. Held in conjunction with SIBF, the Publishers Conference is an essential pillar of sustainable development and a key player in building knowledge-based society and knowledge economy, as well as nurturing research and studies in all ields.”
The irst discussion panel titled ‘Encourage competition in educational publishing’ was introduced by Jose Borghino, Secretary General of IPA, who opened the panel by highlighting the fact that education is a strategic resource and said, “When you are building an education system, you are building the future.”
He highlighted the need for better collaboration between governments and education publishers in all countries, stripping away from the idea that education publishers are mere producers of commodities.
He also said that the IPA has observed that the best performing education systems in the world have highly competitive and open markets designed to produce innovative products attuned to student needs.
w This is furthered by empowering teachers to choose the right learning resources for their classrooms.
He added: “Publishers must work together as crucial stakeholders in the education system, with government and with teachers to produce the ultimate goal of a good education system, and that’s a well-educated citizen. A healthy education publishing industry is a vital asset to any democratic society and an essential element of a competitive, knowledge-based economy.”
The next panel session, ‘Spotlight on Arab and international children’s and YA publishing’, was introduced by the session moderator, Andrew Sharp, group rights and digital director at Hachette Children’s Books who has been in the children’s and YA publishing industry for over 20 years.
Before introducing the panellists, Sharp shed light on the resilience of the children’s book market, saying that in times of economic hardship globally, sales in this category of books haven’t been impacted negatively as parents and teachers have continued to buy reading material for their children even if they curtail personal purchases.
“The success of the global publishing industry does rely heavily on the success of the children’s publishing industry professionals,” he said.
All panellists agreed that children’s literature is in a way laying the foundations of the world’s future and in that sense is an aspect of human development that must be handled with extra sensitivity and care.
Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi
Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi