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Sheikha Bodour urges collaboration at 3rd Booksellers Conference

Sheikha Bodour urges collaboration at 3rd Booksellers Conference
27 Apr 2024 19:31


Welcoming over 550 professionals to the 3rd annual Sharjah International Booksellers Conference on Saturday, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), has urged publishers, distributors, and booksellers to stay open and interconnected as the industry faces rapid technological shifts, changing consumer preferences, intense online competition, and economic pressures.

While presenting her opening remarks for the 2-day conference currently underway in Sharjah, Sheikha Bodour stated “The remarkable success of this conference, despite its young age, speaks volumes about the necessity for specialised platforms where we can come together, listen to each other, and shape a vision for the future.”

The international conference has attracted professionals from around the globe and speaking on the commitment of Sharjah to advancing the global book industry, encompassing bookselling, publishing, distribution, and beyond, the SBA Chairperson asserted, “Look around you: this conference is a microcosm of global collaboration, featuring professionals from Africa, the Arab region, Asia, South America, and Europe. It is this diversity that propels our industry forward, igniting innovation and fostering growth.”

After inaugurating the third edition of the conference, Sheikha Bodour toured the conference’s distributor and publisher pavilions, where she engaged with participants, exploring their initiatives in expanding book distribution, and actively listened to their insights on the current challenges within the publishing and distribution industries. 

She expressed the importance of collaborative platforms such as the booksellers conference that can unite industry professionals, allowing idea exchange, diverse viewpoints, and the development of a collective vision for the future.

The International Booksellers Conference, organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), has welcomed more than 550 publishers, distributors, and booksellers from 76 countries, including three new participants from Cambodia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

The 2-day event which is featuring 30 esteemed speakers and 30 pavilions and platforms, had a productive and inspiring first day and has reaffirmed its position as a pivotal event in the regional and global publishing calendar.

A Diverse Agenda 

The first day of the conference was filled with informative workshops and roundtables from morning to evening, covering a wide range of topics such as bookstores in shopping malls, bookstore partnerships, social media strategies, collaboration between distributors, publishers, and bookstores, Europe’s Kultur Pass, community engagement, curating and selling graphic novels, and selling books outside of one’s own shop.

One topic of particular interest was the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the book industry, where discussions acknowledged the challenges through generative content but also the potential of AI to streamline operations, deepen understanding of reader preferences, and maintain a competitive edge.

In another riveting discussion with Andrea Giunti, Executive Vice-President of Giunti Editore, an Italian publishing house renowned for their Giunti Bookstores, the industry leader shared his insights within the bookseller’s industry. In conversation with Porter Anderson, Giunti emphasised the need for booksellers to stay relevant but that the industry remains robust, as well as his appreciation for gatherings such as the Sharjah Booksellers Conference.

“It’s an honour to be here in Sharjah, and it’s truly heart-warming to see such a gathering to bring booksellers and publishers together, and I must thank Sharjah Book Authority for this opportunity to be here today. From our very first bookstore in 1497, to today, with our 267 stores around Italy, we are deeply ingrained within the culture of reading in Italy, and I am happy to experience another book loving culture that is obvious here in Sharjah. Although there have been challenges in the industry, the tangible and digital formats of the written word are alive and well, as demonstrated by the over 23 million books our company shipped last year alone,” Giunti stated.

PublisHer, an organisation that supports and uplifts women in the publishing industry was a prominent participant at the conference and hosted a range of engaging activities aimed at empowering female professionals in attendance.

On the main stage and a major highlight of the day, was a discussion with Dr Raja Al Gurg, Chairperson and Managing Director at the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group and successful author, where the conversation focused on women's empowerment and leadership, providing valuable insights and recommendations for fostering gender equality and promoting the advancement of women in various industries including publishing.

The dedicated PublisHer Lounge at the conference provided a comprehensive array of opportunities for attendees, including one-on-one mentorship sessions with industry leaders like Sarah Arbuthnot, Nadia Wassef, and Sandra Tamele, offering valuable guidance for career growth. 

Additionally, a career lab workshop conducted by Diala Jarrar focused on optimising LinkedIn profiles for career advancement, while a session hosted by Eleni Papailia offered tools and guidance for building personal brands and networking strategies. 

Attendees also had the chance to get styled with Heidi Shara Armstrong and Celia-Jane Ukwenya, in addition to having professional head shots taken by Danka Holzerova, ensuring they had high-quality images for their professional profiles.

The first day of the Sharjah International Booksellers Conference concluded with a networking session, allowing attendees to engage with colleagues from diverse markets, share unique perspectives, and learn from each other's experiences. 

The event successfully fostered a collaborative and engaging atmosphere, setting the stage for a productive and insightful conference.

With its third edition in full swing, the Sharjah International Booksellers Conference continues to grow in scale and importance as a platform that brings together industry professionals from around the world to discuss and address the challenges and opportunities in the book industry. 

The event's focus on collaboration and innovation ensures that it remains a vital platform for shaping the future of bookselling and publishing.


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