Visitors during the last day of the book fair in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than 235,000 book lovers visited the 20th annual Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (Adibf) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) during its six-day run from March 2 to 7.

"This year, several changes were incorporated into the fair. It was given a facelift and went from what I like to say as ‘a book bazaar under tents' to the most professional book fair in the region," said Monika Krauss, general manager, Kitab, the joint venture company between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Frankfurt Book Fair

She added the Literature and Publisher's Club in Abu Dhabi, which was launched at the fair, had a VIP lounge in the fair.

"We also had an e-zone for the very first time," she said.

Some 840 publishers from 63 countries participated this year, with a total revenue generated from book sales of Dh160 million. In addition, as a result of increased interest in Abibf, 72 publishers were placed on a waiting list.

"For the first time international art book publishers have taken stands at Abibf… we also received feedback from many participants in our Professional Programme who were impressed by what they saw and even though they had originally come here to take a look around, several have left having established partnerships among other things," Krauss said.

As part of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair's commitment to honouring international copyright laws, one stand was shut down after it was discovered its owner had violated the fair's conditions by selling pirated books. Furthermore, 20 publishers who wished to participate were rejected because of their history of selling pirated books.

"We try to ensure that all participating publishers follow our terms and conditions, especially in terms of selling only copyrighted books…one of the methods we used was to get lists and samples of books that were going to be displayed," Krauss said. "Two days before the fair began, we hosted the International Publishing Association's [IPA] Spotlight on Rights Symposium and we garnered over 300 signatures from the event," she added.

And even as this edition of the book fair was coming to a close, Krauss was already hard at work preparing for next year.

"We've already begun to plan for next year's fair… among the things we hope to put in place is to professionalise our Creativity Corner by having more workshops for children, young adults and even parents."

Did you attend the Abu Dhabi book fair? Did you get the books you were looking for? How helpful are such fairs in encouraging people to develop a reading habit?