Thursday News: Book sales abroad, remembering the Montgomery boycott, and interactive music video
How books are booming in the Arabian Gulf – A lack of strategic relationships in place to distribute books among some Arab countries has been exacerbated by political strife in the region. However, the rise of literacy in the Arab gulf countries (UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Qatar), especially among women, who are also buying more books, is changing things for the better. Children’s books by Moroccan authors, which are often published more easily in French than Arabic, are finding placement in Arabic thanks to a new publisher, Kalimat, which, not surprisingly, was started by a woman. Younger writers are winning awards for books that their parents may never read, either on account of illiteracy or cultural taboos (or both). A new generation of readers and writers is re-energizing both the stories and the local literary marketplaces:
Distribution of books in the region is often beset with logistical problems because each country has different laws and regulations. Book fairs are used as places to buy books that are otherwise hard to come by. Online distribution is already increasing its share of the market with many publishers now adapting rights contracts to include digital rights automatically. . . .
While traditionally storytelling used to be an esteemed profession throughout the Arab world, it is going out of style with the greater availability of books and social media.
Even in Morocco’s Jma El Fna’a in Marrakesh, storytelling had all but died out until a nearby cafe started more formal storytelling sessions with young apprentices learning the skill from an old master. However, the stories are being handed down in English and French, not Arabic. The oral tradition, which continues in countries with low literacy rates, may be responsible to some extent for the prevalence of piracy in Arabic publishing. Sharing tales with others who cannot read remains part of Arab identity. – BBC News
Children’s Publishing in China: Highlights from the First GKC China Deep Dive – Another rapidly growing market, especially for children’s books, is China, where U.S.-produced children’s literature is especially desirable, building the business of books in translation, as well. Digital books are not yet a huge market for children’s lit, although e-book reading, especially on smartphones, is also growing rapidly. Remember that BEA this year named China the “Global Market Forum Guest of Honor,” such is the extent of the collaboration.
There is really no school or public library market to speak of in China, especially outside of the major cities. But publishers have an opportunity to sell through a growing network of privately owned picture book libraries. Thousands of membership-based libraries have been established, many launched by mothers with books they bought for their own children, and some now have hundreds of branches across China. Their proprietors are often positioned as “reading promotion experts,” recommending new titles and educating parents on appropriate books, according to Xiaoyan (Renee) Huang, editor-in-chief of Trustbridge Publishing, a Hong Kong-based house.
Meanwhile, the bookstore channel is dominated by the more than 14,200 Xinhua shops owned by the China Publishing Group. Robert Baensch, president of Baensch International Group, said that the stores are huge and busy, with a seven-story location in Shanghai attracting 9,000 visitors a day and a five-story outlet in Beijing seeing 7,000 visitors daily. Xinhua is the only national bookstore chain in China. – Publishers Weekly
Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Courageous Black Domestic Workers Who Upheld the Montgomery Bus Boycott – This December marks the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott, which included Rosa Parks’s now-famous act of civic disobedience. The boycott, one of the most successful and strategically cogent in U.S. history, was planned and carried out by the black women of Montgomery. Montgomery had a robust population of both middle and working class black women, and while the middle class women from the Women’s Political Council of Montgomery (the WPC) were able to use Parks’s arrest to organize the boycott, it was the working class women who really kept the boycott going for more than a year.
Out of Montgomery’s black population, which numbered nearly fifty thousand, more than half of all the black women laboring outside of their homes found paid work as domestics in white homes, far beyond the economic safe haven of labor protection laws or a union. Unable to afford private transportation due to their shamefully low wages, black domestics relied heavily upon the city’s public transportation system. Herein, as a directly affected group, black domestic workers became the all-important foot soldiers of the Montgomery bus boycott. The thoroughly networked social lives of domestic workers proved to be an invaluable resource for the success of the boycott. As seasoned guerrillas, black women clandestinely transported food, items, and, most critical to the boycott, key information gradually gleaned from white conversations eavesdropped upon. – RI Future
This ‘choose your own adventure’ music video has over 250 possible storylines – We’ve seen something like this with books, but this video featuring Interlude CEO Yoni Bloch demonstrate the music video his company created is even more impressive, because it allows you to watch it over and over, choosing different characters to follow each time. And each character presents a new story told in what appears to be “real time” to the viewer, which not only gives it longevity for the viewer, but also makes it potentially very profitable to the designers. Bloch also has some interesting things to say about the state of storytelling in the current market, too. — Tech Insider