24 March 2008

Krishnamurti Publications Goes to Abu Dhabi

Krishnamurti Publications has been planing to break into the Arab market for years, gaining momentum in the international arena helped it organize and attend this year's Abu Dhabi International Book Fair at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition attended by K Publications publishing expert Arne Mueller.

The UAE publishing industry itself is growing at 15 to 20% annually with total worth estimated between AED 8 to 10 billion. The UAE is the regional hub for the publishing, printing and advertising industries, and is expected to receive the largest single share of the business to be generated in this sector in the Middle East by 2008. (National Media Council, UAE)

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the UAE has had the lowest piracy rate in the region for the past ten years, and is the only Middle East entry in the worldwide top 20 list of nations with the lowest piracy rates. At 34%, the UAE’s piracy level is lower than that of several European countries, including Ireland, France, Italy and Spain, and is broadly comparable to Australia (31%), the Netherlands (30%) and the United Kingdom (27%).

More than 400 exhibitors were present in one large hall, report Arne Mueller, most of them were publishers from Arab countries and many in hybrid roles, e.g. publisher, distributor, bookshop and some of them even associations, mainly religiously or culturally oriented.


Arabic is spoken in Spoken in: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, and Yemen. (Distribution of Arabic as sole official language (green) and one of several official languages (blue).

It seems that for a publisher to market books you need to be able to work the whole chain from the manuscript to the counter. This is probably why many publishers either sell directly at fairs or have their own bookshop chain including the necessary logistics. Arne Mueller could not find a single Literary Agent.

Libri, one of the largest wholesalers in Germany (2,4 mio. titles) is in negotiation with the ruling family of Abu Dhabi to build a working distribution system starting with a database of available titles. Believe it or not, nothing like this exists in Arabic and thus we can see that bring Krishnamurti to the Arab market will be a challenge.

While on the ground Arne Mueller did some research into the local book market by visiting bookstores. The density and size of bookshops is by far smaller than in Europe. The number of Arabic titles seems to be small and mainly it is religious literature. All kinds of American Self¬Help books (McKenna, Robbins, Chopra, Tolle etc.) are on the shelves. Some books, rather descriptive ones, about other religions, novels, cookbooks, fiction are available. We hope that through our efforts we can add a few Krishnamurti titles to the shelves by next year.

As some of our traditional markets are stagnating or shrinking it makes sense to look at other regions. Slovenia, Estonia, China – these are newer success stories. The Middle East is still one of the most challenging environments but for sure one where K’s message will find interested people although many elements of functioning markets are missing or are underdeveloped. Partnering with established publishers seems to be the way forward and also focusing on more liberal, open countries like Lebanon and the Emirates while trying and experimenting with the structure in place.

If you currently live in an Arab county and would like to help us distribute or translate Krishnamurti's work in that region we'd love to hear from you.

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