Unsurprisingly, audiobooks have been a hot topic at the London Book Fair, which finishes today, but it wasn’t the usual suspects, Audible and Storytel, that grabbed the headlines.
The Bookseller’s Audiobook producer of the Year Award went to an audio outfit in the United Arab Emirates, which may come as a surprise to those who think audiobooks only arrived in the Middle East when Storytel launched there last year.
In fact Tarek El Bolbol founded Booklava in 2016 and it’s been providing discerning Arab readers with an audio alternative to written texts ever since.
For those wondering, the name Booklava has nothing to do with volcanic eruptions and fact comes from the Arabic Baklava, meaning eastern desert.
Even more surprising for those new to TNPS will be the news that Booklava and Storytel are not the only audiobook shows in the region.
I need to briefly mention one more here – Kitab Sawti – because Booklava CEO Tarek El Bolbol and Kitab Sawti CEO Sebastian Bond were speaking on the same platform at London Book Fair yesterday.
The Middle East publishing news journal Nasher hosted a discussion at #LBF19 titled Knowledge Exchange Between the East and the West, where Tarek El Bolbol and Sebastian Bond were joined by Elizabeth Briggs of Saqi Books, and Ali Al Shaali of Ahhuhhud Publishing. The discussion was chaired by Nasher’s Mohamed Alattar.
Frustratingly I couldn’t be there, but will look out for the report on Nasher and bring a summary here to TNPS with my own commentary.