E-Books, Moroccan Publishing’s Imminent Future

Today, most of the Moroccan publishing industry is still largely dependent on the printing of physical books. Although this is bound to change, as the world becomes more digitalized.

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Many sectors suffered greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic, while others have surprisingly thrived amid the 4 month-long state mandated lockdown.

The health crisis seems to have been beneficial to digital publishing, with publishers and platforms around the world stepping up efforts to keep readers connected with books.

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, bookstores were closed and became physically difficult to acquire during the numerous lockdowns that were imposed to combat its spread, which contributed to the success of ebooks.

The format’s popularity has grown exponentially since its appearance in 2007, with Amazon’s pioneering e-reader, Kindle.

Sami Abdelmounaime, co-founder of Le Manifeste publishing, the first publication and lending platform for digital books in Morocco, spoke to media outlets about the future of digital books in Morocco.

He said that various sectors benefited from the virtual imperative imposed by the pandemic and publishing was no exception.

Abdelmounaime stated that “the rise of information technology and communication has affected almost all sectors of life and that of publishing is not left behind,” he said in an interview with MAP, stating that digital publishing has become a reality in several Arab and African countries.

In Africa, several publishers have embarked on digital publishing since 2005, such as  Madagascar with Jeunes Malgaches Publishing, Togo with AGO Media, Cameroon with the Presses Universitaires d’Afrique, or in Senegal with Nouvelle Edition Numérique Africaine (NENA).

When it comes to digital publishing in Morocco, the young writer and publisher said that the country has a favorable environment for the development of digital reading due to a high penetration rate of Internet and mobile technology across the country.

The development of e-commerce, and well documented political plans aiming for advanced digitalization across various sectors, creates a favorable environment for startups such as Le Manifeste to grow.

Today, most of the Moroccan publishing industry is still largely dependent on the printing of physical books.

Recent data from King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud Foundation for Islamic Studies and Humanities shows that 112 digital journals were published during the year 2018-2019 in Morocco, including 88 in Arabic, 24 for French, in addition to 745 ebooks including 439 in Arabic and 255 in French.

According to Abdelmounaime, there is a real awareness in Morocco about the need to develop a digital infrastructure in the publishing sector.

Despite this favorable context, the co-founder of Le Manifeste editions pointed out “the mistrust” toward digital publishing, especially because of the “low sales of e books, fear of piracy, the lack of a clear and unified strategy and the lack of partnerships between the various players in the sector.”

But this does not hinder Abdelmounaime’s optimism, who feels that digital publishing complements the offer of traditional publishers and that the digital approach “is not competitive, but complementary.”

He stressed that there is a need to establish partnerships “to create synergies with book publishers, give a second life to works published at the beginning of the activity of paper publishers” and finally encourage reading on digital media platforms.

The interest in digital publishing is not exclusive to publishing houses in the sense that more and more authors, amateurs and well-established, are interested in the rise of digital publishing in Morocco.

This July, author Imane Benzarouel published her new book “C pour Confinement” online for free download by anyone who was interested, through le manifeste publishing house.

The e-book is a collection of “the author’s feelings during the lockdown period, and is a compilation of texts written since the beginning of the crisis.”

In a statement to 2M, the author said that “the choice to go with electronic distribution is motivated by the acceleration of connectivity and digitalization in this context of pandemic.”

The book quickly gained popularity among Moroccan readers on Facebook, proving the public’s interest in local digital publications.

The Moroccan readers community, especially on Instagram, is thriving. Numerous accounts each have thousands of followers that share reading recommendations and book reviews.

The readers behind these pages also frequently favor digital books for most english language publications, due to their rarity among Moroccan libraries.

The public’s thirst for digital reading mediums has been confirmed by a recent detailed report from the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) published in 2019 under the title “Promoting reading, an urgency and necessity.”

The report emphasized that “the digital revolution and connected development have profoundly changed access to information and knowledge as well as communication. These tools are easy to use, inexpensive and widely adopted and disseminated among the population,” it argued.

Source – morocco world news

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