ABU DHABI, The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, DCT Abu Dhabi, hosted a virtual roundtable discussion yesterday evening on the future of e-books, featuring notable industry professionals and international experts.
Participants included Seham Abdulla Al Hosani, e-Publishing Manager at DCT Abu Dhabi; Octavio Kulesz, an Argentinian publisher and UNESCO expert in digital creativity and Artificial Intelligence; Steven Rosato, Manager of OverDrive Professional, the largest electronic resource distribution company worldwide; Giacomo D’Angelo, CEO of StreetLib, a global gateway distribution platform for e-publishing; and Julia Balogh, Head of Foreign Rights at the Austrian publishing house, Ueberreuter Verlag GmbH. The discussion was moderated by Salah Chebaro, General Director of Thaqafa and Founder and CEO of Neelwafurat, one of the largest online sales platforms for Arabic books.
Saeed Hamdan Al Tunaiji, Publishing Director at the DCT – Abu Dhabi, said, “E-books witnessed tremendous growth because it is the easiest way to reach the public around the world. DCT – Abu Dhabi is especially focused on digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence because of the great role they play in the process of exploring the future of knowledge.”
Al Hosani kicked off the conversation with a recap of the impact of the pandemic on e-readership, noting the 10 percent increase in the sale of e-books around the world due to the lockdown.
Kulesz stressed the importance of ensuring the survival of bookstores by maintaining a healthy ecosystem within the publishing industry, while expanding the production of high-value electronic content in parallel – a dual “protect and promote” strategy.
Rosato explained that the Abu Dhabi and Sharjah public libraries are using the OverDrive platform, a service that allows members to borrow digital content from anywhere and at any time, and that these institutions have to work hard to keep up with the sudden increase in demand for digital books.
Balogh said that publishing houses around the world deliberately set the prices of e-books very close to those of printed books so that they do not compete over cost. Other considerations such as flexibility, ability to download and share among various devices, and interactive features become the determining factors for choosing one over the other.
Source: Emirates News Agency