When it comes to getting noticed in the international book markets, regional and international book fairs and festivals can play a significant role. At the professional end of the book fair spectrum there is the chance to network with agents, scouts, foreign publishers and see up-and-coming tech initiatives. While consumer-facing events can put a publishers’ titles directly in front of literally millions of readers.

But the costs – both direct (paying for exhibition space, etc) and indirect (travel, accommodation, shipping the books to be available) can be prohibitive, especially for small publishers.
In the UAE the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) has come up with  the Manassah platform to overcome just such obstacles.

The Manassah platform, explains EPA President Bodour Al Qasimi, will serve as,

a bridge between our publishers and new opportunities in regional and international book markets.

This showcasing platform has the potential to intensify the UAE publishing industry’s impact in the region and beyond, as it allows local publishers a unique opportunity to expose their product to businesses and consumers worldwide.
Gulf Today reports that Manassah, supported by Tilal Properties,

is poised to offer an array of exclusive facilities and privileges to those EPA members who have less than 20 published works under their hat, and cannot represent themselves at international book fairs in the region due to high participation costs. The project allows local publishers the opportunity to distribute their books on a wider regional scale and participate in almost all book fairs in the Arab region.

Book fairs in the Arab region? If you’re new to TNPS that might sound like a triumph of hope over experience, but actually the Arab region includes some of the world’s biggest literary events, often unremarked by the western publishing industry journals.
Gulf Today reports that,

In 2019, Manassah will represent select EPA member publishers to 11 internationally renowned book fairs, including Casablanca International Book Fair, Morocco; Muscat International Book Fair; Riyadh International Book Fair; Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival; Abu Dhabi International Book Fair; Amman International Fair, Jordan; Sharjah International Book Fair, Kuwait International Book Fair, Beirut International Arab Book Fair, and some others.

In that list alone we are talking book fairs that attract many millions of visitors.
Casablanca is happening right now in Morocco. 520,000 visitors last year. Muscat will kick off in just over a week. Last year it tipped one million visitors for the first time. The main Sharjah book fair is no stranger to two million visitors and even the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival can pull in a crowd close to a quarter million.
Not mentioned in that list are Egypt and Algeria, both of which attract visitors in the millions.
The Manassah project, by getting Emirati publishers in front of same-language readers across the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region is going to take Emirati publishing to new heights, and not just in MENA.
As well as being the EPA President, Sharjah-based Bodour Al Qasimi is Vice President of the International Publishers Association and a powerful voice for the advancement of the emerging book markets.
The EPA participated in a Work Ethics in Publishing discussion at the just finished Cairo International Book Fair. and was at the New Delhi World Book Fair in India last month, where it was revealed the EPA had increased publisher membership from 30 to 130 in less than two years.
The mood at New Delhi was in stark contrast to that at the just concluding Kolkata International Book Fair. While some at Kolkata railed against digital reading as a threat to publishing, in New Delhi there was a more progressive attitude, with digital seen as key to the future of the publishing industry.
From a press release at the time:

Organised by National Book Trust and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry the India-Emirati publishing forum brought together CEOs from leading companies and publishing representatives.
Panellists shared personal publishing experiences and how the introduction of digital technologies has made it easier for disseminating knowledge and increasing people’s access to content, as well as reduced time and costs involved in running the publishing business.

Image via EPA.

Meanwhile over at Publishing Perspectives last week Porter Anderson took a look at the EPA’s “One Stop Shop” for Emirati publishers as the EPA marks its tenth anniversary.