International Insights: Middle East, North Africa and Arab Markets

Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard.

The international book market. Its so much larger than we think.

Storytel, Bookbeat and Nextory have all simply revealed incredible Q2 outcomes.

However let me unwind this short take a look at the Arab markets in the United Arab Emirates, where the Sharjah International Book Fair attracted 2.5 million visitors in 2015, as part of its World Book Capital celebrations. Sharjah is likewise home to the worlds very first releasing city (seriously!) and the Sharjah Childrens Reading Festival (normally a half million visitors).

Storytel this month acquired the Arabic audiobook service Kitab Sawti and now has the Arab worlds largest digital books catalogue. It competes with MENA audiobook and ebook gamers like Booklava, Dhad, Al Manhal and others.

Arabic, English and french are they crucial languages, so let me end this post with Big Bad Wolf which has been holding its well-known 11-day 24/7 flash sales in the UAE this previous number of years, each time attracting substantial crowds by delivering English language print books to Dubai. 3 million English-language books each time.

July suggests Q2 results, and its the results from the Sweden-based digital books unlimited subscription services that lead us to todays topic: the Middle East, North Africa book markets.

By 2023 Storytel strategies to be in 40 markets, and a number of will be Arab markets across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

MENA isnt a simple region to access for indies, and digital is still in its infancy here, however thats both a chance and a barrier. However why trouble? We all know “Arabs do not read”. Okay, lets lay that nonsensical misconception to rest at last.

The worlds biggest book reasonable by visitor numbers is not Frankfurt, London, or New York, but Cairo, Egypt. This year began with the Cairo International Book Fair attracting 3.5 million visitors. No typo.

The worlds largest book reasonable by visitor numbers is not Frankfurt, London, or New York, however Cairo, Egypt. The 2019 Algiers International Book Fair (Algeria) disappointed with “just” 1.1 million visitors– 2 million is the standard. Saudi Arabias smaller sized Jeddah International Book Fair pulled in 441,000 visitors last year. And another 440,000 visitors turned out for the Erbil book fair in Iraqi Kurdistan. Let me wind down this quick look at the Arab markets in the United Arab Emirates, where the Sharjah International Book Fair attracted 2.5 million visitors last year, as part of its World Book Capital celebrations.

Storytel drew in 101,800 brand-new customers in Q2, taking its overall to over 1.25 million. Q2 income hit $50 million, amounting to 43% YOY growth. Storytel is on target to strike $200 million in earnings this year.

Saudi Arabias smaller Jeddah International Book Fair pulled in 441,000 visitors last year. And another 440,000 visitors ended up for the Erbil book fair in Iraqi Kurdistan. While in Morocco the Casablanca reasonable pulled in a half million booklovers.

Storytel is currently in 20 markets: Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UAE. This year it will be releasing in Thailand and in 2021 in Indonesia.

Sharjah is a legend in the making. An Arab prince is bestowed a golden dagger– a priceless household treasure to be bied far from generation to generation. And at twelve years old the boy home loans the golden dagger to purchase books. The young boy, now a grown man, is much better called His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the present ruler of the emirate of Sharjah.

Invite back to the Alliance of Independent Authors next instalment in the International Insights series hosted by Mark Williams of The New Publishing Standard This week, Mark talks about Middle East, North Africa and Arab Markets.

And then theres Abu Dhabi, another Emirate, where the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is among the riches literary rewards on the planet ($200,000), and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair is among the worlds leading trade occasions and leads the charge for digitisation in the Arab book markets.

Nextory (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland) reported 95% YOY income growth for Q2 and a 58% leap in customer numbers, while Bookbeat (Sweden, Germany, Finland, UK, Denmark, Poland) saw an 82% YOY rise in profits and revealed its expectation to reach 400,000 subscribers and $50 million in revenue by end 2020.

The 2019 Algiers International Book Fair (Algeria) disappointed with “only” 1.1 million visitors– 2 million is the standard. In 2019, over 1 million visitors turned out for the Muscat fair in Oman.

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