Censorship concerns many in the worldwide book industry today. The Arab Publishers Association conference in Tunis this month addressed the issue specifically in the Arab world.
Shortly before the announcement of the International Publishers’ Association’s shortlist for the 2018 Prix Voltaire, the fourth Arab Publishers Association (APA) conference was held in Tunis and addressed a number of issues and opportunities in the region.
The Arab Publishers Association was established in 1995 in a meeting in Beirut and today comprises some 808 publishers in its overall membership, with APA offices in both Beirut and Cairo. In its mission statement, the association describes its intent as being “to defend and develop the Arab publishing industry and protect intellectual property rights, and defense of Arab culture in all its components.”
The conference in Tunis earlier this month (January 9 and 10) staged 46 speakers in a program built around eight topics:
- Components of the publishing industry
- Arab Libraries, supply and indexing policies (and the ISBN)
- Publishing, the marketing of print, digital and audiobooks
- A crisis in Arab book content
- Intellectual property and the problem of piracy
- Realities of publishing in the Arab Maghreb countries of northern Africa
- Challenges facing the publishing industry in the Arab world
- And questions of books in the wider media context
In a session of particular pertinence to many of the world’s publishing markets today, Shukri Al Mabkhout—the 2015 winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for Al Talyeni (The Italian)—led a panel discussion titled “Censorship in the Arab World: Restrictions Imposed on Cultural Expression and its Impact on Creativity.”