The digital publishing market in Saudi Arabia is still in its infancy according to news coming out of the Sharjah International Book Fair. Many of the leading publishers have acknowledged that investing in e-books is costlier than print and needs a lot of investment, greater amount of creativity and technology.
Kalimat Publishing Group, a leading Arabic children’s publisher has printed more than 100 titles in the last few years, with almost all of them having a digital version, but its managing director Tamer Saeed says the digital readership is just around 1% of their print sales.
“Digital publishing is still young in the region and people still prefer reading printed books. In many case people are not aware and also there is not enough good quality content. We trying to address this issue, but it is going to take a while before digital readership picks up.”
Meanwhile Marwan Adwan, manager of Dubai-based Mamdouh Adwan Publishing House said digital publishing is the future, but regional market has not yet matured for it. He also mentioned that “Piracy is a big issue, people just think anything available online is for free and they look at ways to download PDF files of e-books. Also we are facing issues with payments as huge number of people in the Arab world don’t use credit cards, while there is also a great number who don’t have smart devices.”
One of the biggest problems with digital publishing in Saudi Arabia is that all of the local publishers restrict themselves to marketing e-books in this region. None of them translate the content into foreign languages, which decreases the amount of revenue they can generate.