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Sharjah- The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development has agreed to waive International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) fees for publishers after an industry consultation with the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA), at the Sharjah International Book Fair in October 2018. The move aligns the UAE with other progressive countries which have also eliminated ISBN fees to promote publishing sector development.

ISBNs are a global publishing industry standard that assigns each book published a unique code which contains metadata about the book such as the title, edition, and author making them more accessible to retailers, libraries, and readers. The waiver is in line with the Cabinet Resolution No. 55 of 2018 on the services provided by the ministry and implements Federal Decree No. 18 of 2016 on reading, which exempts all publishers in the UAE from fees for acquiring an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

“The EPA brought the high cost and time to obtain ISBNs to the Ministry’s attention in an industry consultation last year. The legacy process had the unintended consequence of UAE published books being considered imported publications in official statistics since publishers would obtain ISBNs cheaper and faster online from other countries,” said Shaikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Vice-President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and the Founder and President of EPA.

She pointed out the waiver of ISBN fees follows the EPA’s work with the National Media Council to establish a one-stop shop for the publishing industry in Sharjah Publishing City.

“The EPA and the Ministry share a common goal of seeing our publishers succeed in the UAE, regionally, and globally. Publishing and cultural development are also key building blocks as our country transitions to a knowledge-based economy,” said Shaikha Budour.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a numeric commercial book classification system that identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format. It is one of the internationally used measurement systems that enables researchers or readers to identify titles or editions released by a certain publisher or country. The number is preceded by “RDMK” for publications in Arabic and “ISBN” for publications in other languages.