Its tempting when in Sharjah – just as in its more famous next-door emirate, Dubai – to let your gaze roam constantly upwards towards the sparkling skyline of skyscrapers. Ground-level doesn’t really attract the eye in quite the same way as it does in European cities. But last week, a group of publishers from around the world were flown to Sharjah in order to bring people’s eyes back down to earth…in other words, to get them looking at those earth-bound objects – books!
Istros Books was invited to attend the 32nd #SIBF, along with other UK publishers @Arcadia, @CommaPress, @MadeinMe as well as publishers from the rest of the globe – 150 in all, apparently.
For the third year running the fair began with a two day professional programme, designed to encourage the buying and selling of rights. The programme for us started off with two mornings of panel discussions on such subjects as IP Rights in the digital age, Tacking Book Piracy in the Arab world, publishing in Egypt after the Arab Spring. The subjects were interesting and relevant, but often to short to be tackled in any depth – one of the disadvantages of a packed programme. However, the pragmatic highlight was the match-making sessions organised for publishers to buy and sell rights at the fair. In a very magnanimous gesture, the organisers of the fair award translation grants to those who sign deals at the venue, with a generous grant value of up to $4000 for every adult fiction book translated from and to any language, not just Arabic. Potentially, we managed to sell 4 books there, and buy the rights for two excellent titles from Hungary and Croatia.
You can read more about what went on at the fair at Publisher’s Weekly