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'The gateway to publishing'

19 March 2007

International book fairs are becoming big business. With two of the most important annual events of the first half of the year, the London Book Fair and the Bologna Book Fair, coming up next month, and the American Book Expo in June, new moves are afoot in the Middle East.

The Abu Dhabi Book Fair has just announced that it is re-gearing itself to an international trade audience as part of a bid to make the emirate 'the gateway to publishing' in the Arab world. The fair has been going for sixteen years and already attracts 200,000 visitors, mostly consumers. Now the organisers are intending to give it a more international and book-trade oriented focus.

The fair's managers have appointed the Frankfurt Book FairWorld's largest trade fair for books; held annually mid-October at Frankfurt Trade Fair, Germany; First three days exclusively for trade visitors; general public can attend last two. to help them professionalise the event, which runs from 31 March to 7 April. Fair director Jumaa al-Qubaisi says: 'The world is turning into a global village. For the first time, we are inviting international publishers, poets and thinkers.'

At the same time the government of Abu Dhabi has established a new prize fund for authors and publishers, worth nearly £1 million ($1.94 million). The annual Sheikh Zayed Book Award will be presented for the first time at this year's fair. With nine categories, it is open to any author or company whose books have been translated into Arabic. It is thought to be the third biggest award for literature, behind only the Nobel Prize (£664,000 or $1.3m) and the /Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's books (£347,000 or $680,000).

In the meantime the London Book Fair looks set to be a great success in its new venue at Earls Court in west London. Bologna will be its usual enjoyable meeting-point for the world's children's publishers, but with added interest because of the booming nature of children's publishing.

Book Expo in New York (June 1 – 3, calling itself 'the largest event serving the largest book market in the world') is trying to attract a wider audience with an increasing emphasis on international publishing and its BEABookExpo America, commonly referred to within the book publishing industry as BEA. The largest annual book trade fair in the United States/Writer's Digest Books Writer's Conference for writers. Then there are many book fairs all over the world which provide a mixture of industry get-togethers and consumer book fairs. They also give writers a good opportunity to find out what is going on in the book world.

Our listing of International Book Fairs

Abu Dhabi Book Fair