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Malaysia Organises dialogue On Southeast Asia's Trading Rights For Publishers

Last update: 14/10/2011
FRANKFURT, Oct 14 (Bernama) -- Malaysia took the lead in organising a dialogue on the trading rights of publishers in Southeast Asia at the ongoing five-day Frankfurt International Book Fair which opened Wednesday.

Dr A. Azmi Shahri, the director of the National Book Council of Malaysia (NBCM), which is under the Education Ministry, told Bernama that besides trading rights, Malaysia was as much interested as the foreign publishing industry in intellectual property rights protection in the Southeast Asian region.

Malaysia's importance as a book publishing site is reflected in the sharp rise in the number of titles, up from 15,000 a year in the past to the projected 26,000 titles next year.

"The purpose of coming to this show is to sell the book rights and not just the book publications," Dr Azmi explained.

"After all, Malaysia has signed bilateral and multilateral treaties committing itself to protect intellectual property rights," he added.

Dr Zahri Aziz, a deputy director-general at the Malaysian Education Ministry, said Malaysia's publishing industry had come with a "clear concept" of offering its best books at the show.

"We're showcasing 50 of the best titles from Malaysia," Dr Zahiri said, adding that Malaysian publishers were encouraged to collaborate with foreign publishers, authors and other relevant partners.

According to NBCM assistant director Adibah Omar, Southeast Asia was a lucrative market by itself and a bigger playground than Malaysia.

The region was an attractive place to sell rights because of the changing demographics and the many opportunities offered by a variety of languages, she said.

Thanachai Santichaiku, advisor to the Thai Booksellers and Publishers' Association who also participated in the dialogue under the Malaysian umbrella, said the market was rapidly growing both in terms of buying and selling rights.

Raman Krishnan, publisher at Silverfish Books, spoke of a "mini boom" -- a renaissance, he said -- in English language publishing in Malaysia, though it still lagged far behind Malay and Chinese publishing.

The NBCM highlighted the fact that the 50 of the best titles from Malaysia represented "some of the finest literary values" of the country.

The award-winning book called "Kulit Manis: A Taste of Terengganu's Heritage" was prominently displayed at the Malaysian pavilion along with two other coffee table books called "Ulam" (Herbs) and "Perak" (Book on Rainforest).

Malaysia can also offer outsourcing services such as translation and printing.

Malaysian National Institute of Translation (MNIT) managing director Mohd Khair Ngadiron said the institute had its own 79 titles already translated into various language, though mainly in English as well as French. They were produced in the last two years.

"Besides selling the rights for our titles, we're also looking for a co-publisher to partner with us in a joint business venture," Mohd Khair said.

"In 2010 we entered into an agreement with Les Indes Savantes of Paris whom we met at this book fair," he added.

The institute is expected to launch three titles in French on Oct 19.