Bodour Al Qasimi delivers the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the International Booksellers Conference in Sharjah. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), has reassured booksellers from 56 nations at the world’s first International Booksellers Conference in Sharjah, saying they are not alone in the efforts to promote the culture of reading in their communities and reinforce people’s awareness about the importance of books.

“Publishers will support you in this mission,” she said, noting that the industry will extend its full support to ensure that booksellers are able to continue achieving greater results. “As the African saying goes, ‘Alone we can go faster, but together we can go further’,” the IPA President further said. Bodour Al Qasimi was delivering a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the two-day conference organised by Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) at their headquarters on the side lines of the ongoing 13th edition of Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).

Complex challenges

“I know booksellers have been doing an excellent job trying to find creative ways to engage readers and to put books in their hands. Your efforts have become even more urgent now in the face of ever-changing readers’ needs and behaviours, together with the increasing digital distractions in everyday life. Since the onset of the pandemic, collaboration and solidarity emerged as vital components in ensuring we remain resilient in the face of complex challenges”, Bodour Al Qasimi said. She noted that through her engagements with industry stakeholders around the world, she has sensed a fresh eagerness in them to collaborate with their global counterparts.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri speaks at the conference. Image Credit: Supplied

Bodour Al Qasimi also emphasised Sharjah’s focus on supporting every link of the book industry chain as part of its overarching strategy to cultivate a strong reading culture among children and adults.

Global platform

Welcoming guests and attendees, Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, the chairman of Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), said: “Through organising the world’s first-of-its-kind conference, we look forward to offering a platform for networking and exchange, as we implement the vision of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, to support the publishing industry and its contributions to shaping our future.”

The opening day explored unique ways for booksellers to take their businesses forward and thrive in an increasingly digital world. Image Credit: Supplied

He added: “At Sharjah Book Authority, we affirm that all our programmes and initiatives are rooted in a solid cultural foundation with a reputable international standing and these help advance the cultural movement by supporting translation, honouring creatives and investing in the infrastructure of the publishing sector. This comprehensive process that begins in Sharjah has an impact and reach extending to countries around the world.”

Case studies, new steps

The opening day explored unique ways for booksellers to take their businesses forward and thrive in an increasingly digital world. A four-member panel discussed ways to improve bookselling in 2022 and beyond at a session that shed light on best practices and case studies in community engagement and sales performance, delving into the role of digital channels, including websites, social media, e-newsletters and e-commerce.

The session also offered insights on strategies to convert followers on social media channels into potential customers.

Elevating book-buying experience

A second panel session discussed the topic of stock curation and presentation and staff training in customer service, exploring strategies to optimise browsing and discover experience of customers to maximise sales.

The panel shared key learnings on how well curated and presented stock and trained staff can enhance the book buying experience for consumers and improve the commercial success of bookshops.

Read more

The world’s first-of-its-kind industry platform has convened more than 385 booksellers, distributors, publishing experts and business consultants from 56 countries to discuss current and future trends in bookselling and look into ways to better streamline industry efforts to advance the book business ecosystem regionally and globally.

The inaugural day concluded with participants touring the Sharjah Publishing City (SPC) Free Zone where the SBA headquarters are located. They presented their titles and also engaged with each other and explored new market opportunities in a series of networking sessions.