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17/04/2017 - 07:00hs

Brazilian, Arab publishers convene in Italy

At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, industry professionals from Brazil and the UAE had the first in a series of binational meetings.

São Paulo – Publishers from Brazil and the United Arab Emirates had the first in a series of business meetings on the countries’ literary markets at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy early this month. The meeting was arranged by the Emirates Publishers Association (EPA) with backing from Brazilian Publishers, a project from the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) in partnership with the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil). It is part of a program designed to promote the emirate of Sharjah, which has been appointed as a guest of honor for the upcoming edition of the São Paulo International Book Biennial next year.

The meeting was attended by 17 Arab and Brazilian publishers, all of whom work with children’s literature. CBL international relations manager Luiz Álvaro Salles Aguiar de Menezes said no agreements have been made yet, but that talks are at advanced stages.

“Some of the publishing houses that had engaged with Arabs last year during the São Paulo Biennial are now moving further in their discussions. But the idea for the meeting was to introduce publishers to one another and get them acquainted,” he said.

The goal is to create a two-way street, with Brazilian books being translated and sold on Arab markets and books by Arab writers offered to Brazilian readers. At least two more meetings should happen this year: one in October, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, and one at a similar event slated for a month later in Sharjah.

“We want to bring five to ten publishers to the UAE. In Frankfurt, a bigger, more diverse fair which also features academic and literary works, the plan is to bring together some 30 people, including Arabs and Brazilians,” the executive explained.

In 2018, another meeting will take place at the Bologna Fair, prior to the main event: the São Paulo Biennial. Last year, the event’s organizers picked the emirate of Sharjah to be the guest of honor for the next edition, for its leadership role in sponsoring literature and culture.

According to Menezes, guest of honor nominations usually spur deals in literary trade. This is also a goal on Sharjah’s part: “During our visit to Brazil last year, we found out that it is home to the world’s biggest Arab diaspora at some 12 million people,” said EPA international relations director Rawan Dabbas speaking to Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“Every time we get together, the similarities between the Brazilian and Emirati book markets grow more apparent. We are using that fact to build cultural diplomacy between our countries,” she said.

Brazilian Publishers estimates that participation in the Bologna Book Fair led to USD 337,000 in prospective and closed deals. The amount also includes the results of the meeting with the Arabs, according to Menezes.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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