Speaker Q&As

Learn what our speakers think about publishing and the book world today:

Which book do you most want to see translated into Arabic/English?

Zero to One by Peter Thiel, a great inspirational book for start-ups and entrepreneurs – Shadi Al Hasan

How do you see digital publishing developing in MENA?

Internationally, digital publishing is developing at a rapid pace but it’s much slower in MENA due to critical reasons, such as the digital content acquisition culture amongst Arabs. We take it for granted; most think, ‘Why should I buy digital content when I can download it (pirated) for free’! On the other hand, due to the high technology adaptation in younger ages, and smart device penetration, digital publishing in the MENA region should face a phenomenal shift and growth if we change the business model and customize it to fit our market's nature. – Shadi Al Hasan

Which global publishing trends are you most excited about developing in your business?

I see that we need to create our own case study/model, but measuring the feedback of readers through digital channels first, to be able to take wise decisions for print, is likely to be a good exercise we need to develop. – Shadi Al Hasan

What did you most enjoy reading in 2016?

An old book titled Positioning - the battle for your mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. I believe it helps everybody in any life aspect. – Shadi Al Hasan

What does print on demand technology mean for business in MENA?

Print on demand is probably the most convenient course of action the publishing sector in the region may face due to its practicality, and the lower risk it offers for the authors and publishers. The only obstacle may be the high cost of the setup and its integration with the shipping and delivery supply chain, including payment methods – Shadi Al Hasan

Which book do you most wish you had published?

Yet to come when I finish my first book I’m writing 🙂 – Shadi Al Hasan

What attracted you to publishing as a profession?

I’ve always loved reading and popular culture, but I sort of fell into publishing when I had some work experience with Random House after graduating. I’d had no idea what I wanted to do, but after just a couple of hours I knew that I had to work in this industry. – Holly Harris

What's been your best/proudest moment?

Turning any idea into an actual book is a great moment. Moving to Penguin Random House in August to work with the team that started the whole trend off with Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online series was very exciting. – Holly Harris

How audio/video can it go?

I’m excited to find out. But I think people will always love the good old-fashioned book. – Holly Harris

What attracted you to publishing as a career?

My first degree was in English Literature, and my grandfather had worked in publishing. My initial career was in Occupational Psychology, but I quickly realised that it wasn’t the career for me. An opportunity came up at a Sales Company, called Trevor Brown Associates, that represented American University Presses in the UK & Europe. A friend of mine worked there, and they were looking for a Sales Rep, an entry level position. I knew from the moment I walked in the door for the interview that it was the right place for me. Working with books was the main draw, and I quickly realised that it is an industry that is mainly populated with like-minded people, with similar interests, making it a stimulating, fun and interesting field to work in. – Adrian Greenwood

What book did you most enjoy reading this year?

Rivers of London series, Ben Aaronovitch. – Adrian Greenwood

What's the most exciting trend you see developing over the next few years?

Where the revival of print will take us. The resurgence of Waterstones, and other bookshops, and the levelling off of ebook sales, and the success of smaller publishers such as Saraband, with His Bloody Project, and more widely publicised One World, Pavilion, Laurence King and Michael O’Mara. Diversity is so important to publishing, and we need to see that blossom in all areas, from the people who work in the industry, to the genres we publish, the formats we publish in. There is a sense of optimism that there are opportunities across the market. – Adrian Greenwood

What attracted you to publishing as a career?

I arrived in publishing via my first job in bookselling, so I have spent my entire working life in books. 38 years so far. What attracted me as a child was my local library, so I am a strong advocate of the role libraries play in creating readers and authors – Trevor Naylor

What's the most exciting trend you see developing over the next few years?

I hope the YA trend continues to influence new readers, who are both growing up and also inspiring non-reading adults to become readers whatever their age. That is a thrilling prospect, and the merging of book and film ideas has made fiction as a form of escapism much more acceptable again. – Trevor Naylor

Is there an Arabic author you'd like to see more of in English?

I would like to see far more Arabic authors in English generally, and the overall types of fiction by Arabic authors to be more acceptable to translation. To have a global success, one needs to write with that notion in mind from the first word. – Trevor Naylor

What attracted you to publishing as a career?

Came for the books, stayed for the people – James Spackman

What's the most exciting trend you see developing over the next few years?

I hope there will eventually be a clever (by which I mean 'easy') way for readers to share book comments with their friends. Easier, that is, than the comment-sharing currently on Kindle, for instance. That could spark a huge ‘social reading’ shift, comparable with the rise of book groups. – James Spackman

What is the book you're most proud to have published?

I didn't publish it, but I'm proud to have played a tiny part in the sales and marketing effort for the Harry Potter books. – James Spackman