(from left) Mauro Spagnol, Mansour Al Hassani, Ahmed Al Ameri, and Gabriel Nieto Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Winners of the debut edition of Sharjah Rights Connection Award were announced on the second day of the Sharjah International Book Fair’s 12th annual Publishers Conference on Monday.

Mauro Spagnol from Books-Everywhere, UK, is the winner of the award’s first category, which recognises those who sell rights as an agency or as an individual.

The winner of the second category, dedicated to those who sell translation rights on behalf of a publishing company, is Gabriel Nieto of Editorial Planeta, Mexico.

Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA), presented the awards to the winners in the presence of regional and global publishing professionals at the conference.

The award, launched by SBA earlier this year is designed to turn the spotlight on the contributions and innovations of rights professionals and celebrate their achievements in successfully promoting the growth of the global publishing industry.

Mansour Al Hassani, director of Publisher’s Services at SBA, said: “The [award] has reinforced the invaluable work put in by agents, individuals and companies who are in the business of buying and selling translation rights. SBA is proud to celebrate their dedication and efforts to build bridges of exploration and exchange through the written word, as they passionately take the diversity of voices, narratives and literary prowess that exists in different parts of the world to readers everywhere”.

He added: “In Sharjah, our goal is to open as many windows into global cultures as possible, and with the Sharjah Rights Connection Award, we seek to support and honour one of the key enablers of this process.”

Spangol, whose entry was shortlisted along with two contenders from Lithuania and South Africa, was awarded thanks to customer testimonials.

‘Always be curious’

Spangol said: “I have been an agent for 20-plus years, mainly in the UK, and still after so many years I am passionate about selling rights. The secret is - always be curious… curious about what the new trends are, but most importantly, curious about people, cultures and the publisher you work with. The curiosity to know, understand and discover more will take you very far in this business.”

He will be sharing the prize money with certain publishers he works with to help them with their translation projects. “My award is equally my publishers’ award,” Mauro said.

Gabriel Nieto, who won the award for selling rights on behalf of Mexico-based Editorial Planeta was in the running for the award’s second category against finalists from the UK and Egypt. He was also selected winner for his understanding of the complex publishing scene in Latin America.

Nieto said: “I am deeply grateful for this recognition as it is very valuable for my region - Latin America. The award has opened new borders and new opportunities to learn from the Arabic world. The award gives visibility to the authors we represent and highlights the challenges they face, some of which are quite similar to those faced by this region.”

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Submissions were received from 14 countries around the world for the award’s inaugural edition, with the highest number of applications from Egypt, India and the UK. Entries were also received from the UAE, Albania, Argentina, Argentina, Canada, Finland, Germany, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, and South Africa.

The shortlist of finalists was announced at a reception dinner hosted by SBA on the eve of Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022 last month.