SHARJAH - UAE publishers will no longer need to pay International Standard Book Number, ISBN, registration fees, the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development has announced.

In a statement, the Ministry said that it has waived ISBN fees for publishers following industry consultations with the Emirates Publishers Association, EPA, during the 2018 Sharjah International Book Fair.

"The move aligns the United Arab Emirates with other progressive countries which have also eliminated ISBN fees to promote publishing sector development," the statement added.

ISBNs are a global publishing industry standard that assigns each book published a unique code which contains metadata about the book such as the title, edition, and author making them more accessible to retailers, libraries, and readers. The waiver is in line with the Cabinet Resolution No. 55 of 2018 on the services provided by the ministry and implements Federal Decree No. 18 of 2016 on reading, which exempts all publishers in the UAE from fees for acquiring an ISBN.

Commenting on the announcement, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Vice President of the International Publishers Association, IPA, and Founder and President of EPA, said, "The EPA brought the high cost and time to obtain ISBNs to the Ministry’s attention in an industry consultation last year. The legacy process had the unintended consequence of UAE published books being considered imported publications in official statistics since publishers would obtain ISBNs cheaper and faster online from other countries. The move is very significant to the development of high quality retail sales statistics to promote publishing sector growth and publisher alignment with the latest reading trends." "The EPA’s work with the Ministry is an outcome of its stepped up public policy engagement strategy to work with regulators to resolve critical industry challenges as part of its industry manifesto launched in 2018," she added.

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan went on to say that the ISBN fees waiver follows the EPA’s work with the National Media Council to establish a one-stop-shop for the publishing industry in Sharjah Publishing City, a significant industry achievement to streamline the business enabling environment for publishers.

She noted that the decision is a culmination of the joint and continuous cooperation between EPA and the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.

It also stems from their common interest to serve the publishing sector and enrich the dynamic cultural movement in the UAE in general, Sheikha Bodour continued, adding, "The EPA and the Ministry share a common goal of seeing our publishers succeed in the UAE, regionally, and globally. Publishing and cultural development are also key building blocks as our country transitions to a knowledge-based economy. We look forward to continuing our work with the Ministry later in the year to enhance community library collections with books sourced from our members." Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said that the waiver is aimed at offering publishers the support they need to source and produce high-quality and diverse content. Doing so will enrich the country’s cultural landscape and also give UAE community access to more books and other reading materials in future, she added.

"The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development works with partners to birth policies and strategies that will incentivise local and global publishers to boost production of quality content, and increase the competitiveness of this important sector. Ultimately, these initiatives will strengthen the nation’s appeal as a preferred destination for regional and international industry players, and boost our cultural profile," Al Kaabi said.

The decision follows the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Ministry and EPA on the side-lines of the Sharjah International Book Fair 2018, with an aim to support and encourage Emirati publishing houses by helping them forge new partnerships with professionals in the book industry and providing required facilities for Emirati publishers.

Under the MoU, the two parties agreed on collaborating to enrich state of libraries with unique and high-quality Emirati content.

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2019.