Even though the pandemic hindered everyone from stepping outside, people have found ways to entertain themselves online. Music is now enjoyed through online concerts, and fitness routines are going strong thanks to live workout sessions. In Jordan, Jabal Amman Publishers have found ways to benefit readers by helping them develop their skills in subjects that include business, marketing, design, and entrepreneurship. With large bookfairs in the Arab world postponed, this Jordanian company managed to bring them to every book lover’s home.
Who are Jabal Amman Publishers?
Before diving deeper, Sinan Sweis, founder and director of JAP, reflected back on how the company came to be. For several years, Sweis had been heavily involved in development projects outside of Jordan. Despite his loaded schedule, he always made time for reading. “I’m an avid reader. So naturally, I tried my best to read as much as I possibly can,” he said. “And I found particular interest in subjects of entrepreneurship and design.”
finding those books in Arabic - his mother language. He revealed that they are either absent from the market or publishers relied on translators that have no field knowledge. “I wished I could develop something that can rightly create and translate content in Arabic. I wanted to provide everyone with access to the right knowledge sources they need,” Sweis revealed. And after this sudden epiphany, he dwelled on the idea further until he decided to create Jabal Amman Publishers.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Sweis realized how much the Arab publishing industry had been lacking in digital readiness. This came as a setback when COVID-19 challenged the economy and forced global industries to adapt new strategies. However, according to Sweis, “A challenge is nothing more than a hidden opportunity in a mask.”
As part of their social responsibility, JAP launched a campaign to encourage reading at home and offered its customers several discounts to be able to have their favorite books.
JAP also took the opportunity to heavily adapt digitalization into their plans. Circumstances made them make their 2022 digital transformation journey much sooner than expected. It immediately took steps to transform its books into e-books and published many of them on kindle.
With kids around the world learning from home, JAP provided Jordanian schools with a free subscription to their reading management system “Kutubee”. Schools from 20 different countries decided to adopt Kutubee as their interactive reading platform and since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 260,000 books have been read. The analytics of the application helped to provide a deeper understanding to the readers’ habits and interests, since COVID-19 further impacted people’s reading patterns. JAP didn’t stop there. It also launched a reading competition for these kids on their social media pages.
The Virtual Book Fair
When word spread that the Riyadh and Abu Dhabi book fairs (among others) won’t be taking place, Sinan gathered his team and tried to find a solution. “Book Fairs are extremely important. They are not only a place for people to read books. They provide opportunities to interact with the publisher, ask questions, flip through the books before buying them, in addition to attend sessions and lectures with renowned authors and subject matter experts,” Sweis highlighted. The JAP team tried to find an alternative, which would allow readers to live the book fair experience that they have always loved. With the move to digitalization, they worked on a model that could create value to all visitors. And so, the JAP Virtual Book Fair was created. And from the 6th to the 12th of May (which later extended to the 14th of May), all those who attended this virtual book fair were able to view books, flip through them as they usually do in “real” book fairs, watch videos to be able to know more about the book, chat with JAP representative, participated in the cultural program – a 10-session program with key Arab and international authors, and lived the whole experience without having to leave the comfort of their own home.
Sinan Sweis also shared the lessons the COVID-19 pandemic taught him. “Aside from the challenges, it provided major opportunities. One thing it did was highlight the proactiveness of small businesses and their ability to handle the situation quicker than larger companies.” With a final message to other small business owners, Sweis said, “This pandemic brought unprecedented economic challenges, but even so, it’s not the time to be negative or critical. It’s the time to find ways and create means to overcome this challenge, and each one of you has the ability to do so.”