How e-books and audiobooks are expanding options for consuming Arabic literature

Kenneth Palmer

DUBAI: As technological innovation advances, bookworms are getting far more solutions to eat literature than just through the printed term. Even though e-publications in Arabic are considerably less in variety than those in English, publishers and translators are functioning to bridge the hole.

In 2018, Amazon introduced Arabic-language guidance for the Kindle e-reader, opening the doorway of literature to a much bigger viewers.

From novels to self-assistance textbooks, biographies to poetry and much more, an expanding variety of Arabs are finding reasonably priced indicates to acquire expertise in e-textbooks and audiobooks. Nevertheless, reading through a printed guide is still the most favored alternative for the wide greater part.

“Honestly, I really do not feel there is a dilemma of looking through guides in the Arab location as some might feel, as much as there is a issue in marketing guides,” Salah Chebaro, CEO of Beirut-based Neelwafurat, advised Arab News.

Neelwafurat, a person of the most significant online bookstores in the Arab planet, is a term merging the two Arabic names of the Nile and Euphrates rivers.

The bookstore sells printed publications from Arab publishers to unique cities all over the entire world. It features a stock of 15,000 e-publications for sale that can be examine via the iKitab software, as very well as 800,000 printed textbooks.


Though printed Arabic-language guides proceed to be far additional well known than e-ebook equivalents, income of the latter are slowly rising, in section as a consequence of the growing price ranges of printed volumes. (SPA)

“When you look at the selection of the pirated textbooks that were downloaded, they are in the thousands and thousands,” Chebaro explained in an on line job interview from the Lebanese funds. “People like to study, but they never like to pay to go through.”  

Nonetheless, “the predicament for publishers, distributors and bookshops in the Arab planet … is in delivery (books) and other logistics relevant to the geography of the Arab location.”

For occasion, the price of shipping a consignment of printed textbooks weighing a complete of 2 kilograms from New York to Los Angeles in the US is about the very same as, say, sending it from Cairo to Amman.

This is mainly because of the geographical distribution of the Arab area, which tends to make transportation, shipping and delivery, exporting and importing far more challenging and expensive, Chebaro stated.

Preserving on transport fees is amid the most important aspects behind the raising recognition of e-books in the Arab area. Other things incorporate conserving the area desired to keep and carry about print textbooks, as effectively as the velocity of getting a book online, which can be finalized in the blink of an eye.

When some proceed to manage their choice for the printed term, reading through on gizmos has many pros. Yemeni-British Dhuha Awad, a creativity facilitator centered in Dubai, says she likes the dictionary purpose in electronic English guides.

“I can type the word I am seeking for, and the gadget will exhibit all the traces that have that word (in the digital ebook). Also, I don’t want to carry the guide I am studying with me all the time,” Awad instructed Arab News.

Her library is composed of approximately equal numbers of digital and printed textbooks, and she makes use of the e-guide format to additional conserve time and physical room. “If I like a particular e-book and want other individuals to read it, I make guaranteed I have it in paper. But if I am not sure, I will obtain the digital format very first,” she stated.

QuicklyFacts

• Global e-guide revenues surpassed $16.1bn in 2021 and could reach $18.7bn by 2026. 

• The quantity of e-ebook viewers worldwide is expected to breach 1.1bn by 2027.

• Product sales of e-textbooks represent all over 10% of in general guide income, in accordance to publishers.

• In 2018, Amazon introduced Arabic-language support for the Kindle e-reader.

The progress in the e-textbooks current market in the Arab location is led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, Ali Abdel Moneim Ahmed, electronic publishing expert with Liberty Instruction in the British isles, Egypt, and UAE, stated through a panel discussion at the Sharjah Publishers Meeting on the sidelines of the 2022 version of the UAE’s Sharjah Worldwide Guide Good, held each November.

Additional and more publishers are providing on the net platforms with their textbooks getting electronic variations, Ahmed mentioned. Publishers are also collaborating with audio-completely ready platforms, these types of as Storytel and Audible.

E-e-book income of traditional books in the markets of the 3 aforementioned Arab nations have “increased by 14 p.c (in 2021),” Ahmed mentioned. “This is aside from the on the internet publications, which have greater by 50 percent.”

Despite the raising income of e-publications, there is however room for even much more growth. Revenue of e-books constitute all over 10 percent of overall e book revenue, in accordance to publishers. 

“It is a promising (subject) … and it is rising each and every year. But we haven’t nonetheless achieved the percentages of Europe and the US, where by almost 30 per cent of textbooks sales are e-books,” Chebaro explained to Arab News.

Worldwide e-publications product sales are substantial, despite figures different between various resources and internet sites.

According to WordsRated, a US-based non-professional investigation corporation, world wide e-e book revenues in 2021 attained around $16.1 billion, and is expected to cross the $18.7 billion mark by 2026.

Statista, a further US-primarily based market place and customer facts company, expects the e-guides section to attain $13.6 billion in 2022, with an predicted annual development price of 3.38 percent, achieving above $16 billion by 2027.


Saudi Arabia tops the record of customers and readers for the two electronic and printed publications in the Arab earth. (SPA)

The variety of e-guide readers is envisioned to reach about 1.1 billion by 2027, with most of the revenues predicted to be produced by the US. The country is the biggest guide current market in the entire world, with its revenues estimated in billions of dollars.

Practically one particular million publications are staying revealed yearly in the US, in addition to four million self-released textbooks on a yearly basis.

By comparison, the Arab reserve market’s income ranges between $100 and $150 million. Only a million publications have been revealed in the Arab region in the earlier five decades, according to details shared by Chebaro with Arab News.

Figures on publishing in the Arab entire world are similar to quite a few socio-economic things, chief between them person profits. 

“Today, (the level of) pirated textbooks in the Gulf region is less than other nations these kinds of as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq. Pirated publications are a big challenge and (are) related to an individual’s money,” Chebaro told Arab Information. 

“We have a long way to go … (but) overall, income of paper publications are expanding, as effectively as the revenue of e-guides. None of them is using the place of one more. Each has a sector and each individual has its shoppers and audience.”

Saudi Arabia tops the listing of potential buyers and viewers for both equally digital and printed guides in the Arab entire world. It is followed by Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Algeria, in accordance to Chebaro.

Fiction, self-esteem and psychological health, and biographies prime the record of subjects of interest to Arab viewers, Doha Al-Refai, publishing supervisor at the Rufoof electronic bookstore, advised Arab News from Amman in Jordan.

The retailer, which offers 25,000 Arabic titles for a regular membership payment, acts like a sort of on the internet library — not selling electronic or print copies of publications, but rather permitting audience to examine publications on their web page.

“We don’t distribute or sell books for readers. We distribute for the publisher,” Al-Refai told Arab Information.

Rufoof has “solved a challenge for a vast spectrum of visitors, exactly where men and women do not have to obtain guides, no matter if paper or digital, but can examine as substantially as they want in the course of the entire thirty day period.”

Saudis, Emiratis and Egyptians are amid Rufoof’s prime customers. Even though Egyptians are among the the most voracious visitors, the range of subscribers in the Gulf states are also superior, Al-Refai reported, including that the web site has designs to extend into audiobooks. 

Audiobooks are a promising discipline with big prospective, according to quite a few publishers. Chebaro and Al-Refai claimed that the Arab area manufactured approximately 8,000 audiobooks in 2021, with Al-Refai incorporating that Rufoof accounted for 5,000 so far.

Egyptian creator Amr Hussein claims the digital format has assisted maximize obtain to literature for those who are not able to find the money for the expanding rates of publications.

“Arabs living in different locations, these kinds of as Australia, Europe, and other cities far from the Arab location, find it hard to get Arabic textbooks,” Hussein, who lives in Dubai, told Arab Information.

“Distributing guides through digital formats presents individuals any place in the entire world the likelihood to browse books as they are printed in the Arab location.”

He explained, individually, he prefers audiobooks as he can pay attention to them when stuck in site visitors or in a aircraft.

Many readers and writers will most likely agree with Purva Grover, a Dubai-dependent writer from India with 3 e-books underneath her belt, who informed Arab News by using electronic mail: “The more books we have (in any format) in the world, be it e-textbooks or print, the brighter the long term.

“Reading is much more about sharing now — I read a good paragraph and I want to instantly screenshot it and mail it to my close friends, set it up on my social accounts or tag good friends — so e-textbooks aid us do it all, and that’s why persuade and unfold the term of looking at in this tech-pleasant era.”

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