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  • International Book Fairs as a Cultural Project

    14.06.2017 | Comments | Culture | 128 Gulnar Nadirova

    Creative industries are becoming increasingly important components of modern post-industrial knowledge-based economies. Not only they account for higher than average growth and job creation, but they are also vehicles of cultural identity that play an important role in fostering cultural policy. During the last decade, a number of governments around the world have recognized this fact and started to develop specific policies to promote them. The concept of cultural development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, approved in 2014, indicates that the development of culture and cultural potential is one of the priorities of our country's development. Moreover, the society is aware of culture as an important condition for its life and progress, since it is a significant part of the nation's wealth.

    The concept of cultural development, in particular, indicates that the realization of recognizable image projects - international competitions and festivals, the development of tourist transnational routes and clusters can and should contribute to strengthening the status of Kazakhstan's culture in the world. [i] The organization and holding of such a large-scale event as the “Eurasian Book Fair,” first organized in 2016 and introduced into the cultural and business program of Astana Expo-2017, contributes to the achievement of new heights in Astana's development as a national cultural cluster and international brand. There is a hope that this significant event will be continued annually or every two years, in the pavilions and facilities built for the EXPO-2017, which should be actively used and oriented towards profitability. The organization of such book fairs will promote and enhance the tourism potential of the city, giving the opportunity for the promotion of the cultural image of Astana in the international arena.

    The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) experience, for example, shows that it is a critical marketing event for the launching of books and facilitating the negotiation of the international sale of rights and licenses. Visitors take the opportunity to obtain information about the publishing market, to network, and to do business. Publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, academics, film producers, translators, printers, professional and trade associations, institutions, software and multimedia suppliers all take part in the events and business climate of the FBF. In 2016, more than 10,000 journalists from 75 countries reported on the fair, which brought together 7,135 exhibitors from 106 countries, and more than 172,296 trade visitors. [ii]

    The FBF is at the origin of other initiatives which would not exist without it, and which are very closely linked to its goals and, up to a point, management structure. For example, Litprom - the Society for the Promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature, was founded during the 1980 Fair. In 2007, the FBF also started a short story project by and for people with migration background. A special literary program is organized for the occasion (readings, art exhibitions, public discussion panels, theater productions, and radio and TV programs). [ii] Having a long history and rich experience, the FBF serves as a model of successful cultural policy and creative industry.

    The key functions of the book fair are the consolidation of social relations and the conclusion of business transactions conducted through formal and informal channels of communication. Additionally, publishers are interested in discussing intellectual assets - or creativity - of their authors as business transactions. At book fairs platform creative values are converted into economic value.

    Major cultural commercial events are realized not only in the European space, but also in the developing world, and with the same potential for business efficiency. The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) is the most professionally organized, most ambitious and fastest growing book fair in the Middle East and North Africa. The ADIBF is a major business initiative of KITAB, a joint venture between the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Frankfurt Book Fair. KITAB's aim is to develop the book and publishing industry and promote reading in Abu Dhabi and the neighboring Arab Emirates. KITAB will focus on making the Abu Dhabi Book Fair truly international and developing a long-term networking opportunity between the Arabic and international publishing communities. Abu Dhabi is the motor driving the professional and commercial development of the regional publishing industry and is financially and philosophically committed to the long-term expansion of the global book business. “Everyone in the world should have the right to education and self-improvement. Reading books gives everyone such a wonderful opportunity. Our fair is an excellent platform for discussions, exchange of views between writers and readers. We also see our task in inculcating love for reading among the younger generation, especially, where books are hard to access,” said Juma Abdullah al-Kubaisi, general director of the ADIBF. [iii]

    International publishers, writers, poets, illustrators and other professionals of the book and publishing industry took part in the ADIBF 2017, which was held from April 26 to May 2. Guests were presented with a huge selection of fiction and non-fiction, educational and children's literature and other publications. The exhibition was of interest not only for specialists of the regional publishing business but was also popular among institutional buyers, librarians and book lovers around the world. This year's edition featured specific discussions about technology and how it might change the publishing business forever.

    An extremely successful experience of self-presentation, strengthening of the international image of the country was realized within the broad cultural program of this exhibition. This year's edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair revolved around "humanity" that encompasses the peaceful convergence of cultures and recognition and respect of differences that is embraced by the United Arab Emirates. The cultural program touched upon the ways that Arab intellectual, artistic and literary issues relate to the rest of the world. The 2017 Fair offered a wide range of seminars that gave an overview and initiated a discussion of features of the Emirati art, literature and translation scenes. [iv]

    Peaceful rapprochement of cultures, inter-ethnic harmony - all of these values are also relevant and close to the Kazakhstani society. In this context, such events, not to mention cultural and economic benefits, contain a significant moral and spiritual potential. It is obvious that our Eurasian book fair should have its own face, so as not to get lost among other similar events, to show something original, peculiar to our country and culture, and possessing attractiveness. This may be an emphasis on youth products or multiethnic and multilingual aspects of our society, or special attention, as in the case of the EXPO-2017, on the environmental components of human life, or the phenomenon of globalization and so on. In any case, the analysis of the experience of major international book fairs shows and creates confidence that the interest of the state and well-built policy in the field of creative industries contribute to social stability, the formation and continuity of the system of values, patriotism and national identity, and stimulate innovative development of industry and sustainable economic growth.






    Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute's editorial policy.

    Tags: Kazakhstan, Culture, International Book Fairs


  • Senior Research fellow

    Gulnar Nadirova

    Nadirova Gulnar Ermuratovna graduated from the Oriental Faculty of Leningrad State University, in 1990 she defended her thesis on the Algerian literature at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, in 2006 doctoral thesis - on modern Tunisian literature at the Tashkent Institu