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Mapping out Arab international book fairs: Investigating the development of the Muscat book fair

Ali Saif Al-Aufi (Department of Information Studies, Sultan Qaboos University , Muscat, Oman)
Nabhan Al-Harrasi (Department of Information Studies, Sultan Qaboos University , Muscat, Oman)
Shahid Al-Balushi (Department of Operations Management and Business Statistics, Sultan Qaboos University , Muscat, Oman)
Hamed Al-Azri (The Main Library of Sultan Qaboos University, Sultan Qaboos University , Muscat, Oman)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the status, challenges and impacts of the Arab international book fairs, with particular focus on the Muscat Book Fair. This study proposes a framework to assist in the design and organisation of future Arab book fairs.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used a variety of methods to obtain data, including questionnaires, site visits (both regional and international), observations and interviews. A literature review was also undertaken which helped determine major worldwide issues related to aspects of book fairs and the publishing industry, focusing on Arab book fairs.

Findings

Arab international book fairs remain relatively traditional, however, there are several examples of innovative improvements in some states. Reading habits and literacy trends were found to be influenced by dominant socio-cultural factors, emphasising religion and children’s literature. This seems to have a reverse effect on the publishing industry. Results also revealed a number of disadvantages related to economic downturns and political instability. Despite continuous expansion, Arab book fairs still suffer from various obstacles which affect the publishing industry’s growth. There are other obstacles that they face which are directly associated with distribution and marketing as well as violations of intellectual property laws.

Practical implications

This study proposes a framework for future improvement of the Muscat Book Fair. It discusses the engagement of local cultural institutions, non-profit community and academic organisations, as well as private sector organisations. These will leverage value and help keep abreast of international developments in book fairs/publishing. It is hoped that the proposed framework will be beneficial to those running book fairs at a regional level, and to countries with developing economies.

Originality/value

There have been no previous empirical studies investigating book fairs in the Arab states. This study adds to the currently scarce body of literature related to book fairs and the publishing industry.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research is funded by the Ministry of Information and Sultan Qaboos University, Oman.

Citation

Al-Aufi, A.S., Al-Harrasi, N., Al-Balushi, S. and Al-Azri, H. (2017), "Mapping out Arab international book fairs: Investigating the development of the Muscat book fair", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 118 No. 5/6, pp. 280-297. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-02-2017-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited