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The Future Of The Literature World

What awaits the publication sector in the future?
Are we getting to the end of printed publication? What is the current situation of Turkish literature in the world? We talked to Sam Coates, foreign rights manager at RCW literature which represents many talented authors including Nobel Laurate Kazuo Ishiguro about these and more. Berin SOMAY – berin.somay@alem.com.tr / Photo credit: Ertan DEMİRBİLEK

Sam Coates, foreign rights manager at RCW literature, has come to Turkey to attend the Fourth Istanbul Fellowship Program. Coates has been working with Turkish publishers for five years. We met him to learn about his ideas on Turkish literature as well as what awaits the publication industry in the future.

How does it feel to be in Istanbul? Would you like to share your impressions so far?
This is the second time I am in Istanbul. I was here last May. This city has a fantastic air with continuous sunshine. People are very warm and friendly. Istanbul is like the reflection of the people it houses. It also harbours a blend of history and culture. Take Hagia Sophia for example, it is one of the most wonderful edifices I have ever seen in my life. I can easily say that my impressions about Istanbul are fairly positive. Besides, I have been working with Turkish publishers for five years now, and I take great pleasure.

You are one of the participants of the Istanbul Fellowship Program which is organized for the fourth time this year. How would you describe your expectations about the event as a representative of a literature agency?
Occasions of this kind are very inspiring. Many people from Ukraine to South Africa come together and have a chance to exchange ideas. Each culture has a different perspective. You can learn new things from each country. So this is an exciting opportunity for publishers. This is my first time in Istanbul Fellowship and I am very happy to be invited.

You have mentioned your working experience with Turkish publishers. What does Turkish literature mean to you?
I think Turkish literature has a prominent place in the world. It is like a mixture of Asia and Europe. It reflects the land and the geography very well. Stories from Turkey are always attracting and curious. I also believe Turkey always produces literary works. In the United Kingdom for instance, the publication industry is focused more on mass marketing. What this means for us is that we produce more whodunit stories and less literary works. I have always found Turkey to be in close contact with its traditions when it comes to literature. Publishers here could take more risks. So working with Turkish has therefore been a great pleasure for me.

Do you have any favourites among Turkish writers?
Exactly! I really love Orhan Pamuk. I have been able to pay a visit to the Museum of Innocence when I was in Istanbul. I think Pamuk's idea to first write a novel and then create a visual representation of that novel is very smart. I also like Elif Shafak, who currently resides in London. Most recently, I read Istanbul Istanbul from Burhan Sönmez, and I absolutely liked it.

What do you think of the future of the publishing industry in an ever-changing world? Do you have any guesses?
During my time in Istanbul, I had a chance to meet Scandinavian publishers who have made radical changes. Their intention is to increase the audiobook sales. In the old times, people would gather around a fire to tell stories. We are accustomed to listening to stories since then I think this will become more and more important in the next few years and we will start to see more audiobooks. As to what genre would sell more in the future, I would say that people are seeking real stories. Stories that tell the state of the humankind, stories that are not fiction. The writers, therefore, try to reflect the world as realistic as possible. They adapt true stories into their novels.

Do you expect an end to the printed publication?
No! Reading e-books and listening to audiobooks might be more practical and easier. And we might as well be gravitating away from the traditional methods of reading. Young people now are more keen on reading electronic books but the older generations still prefer physical books. What could be more pleasurable than opening the cover of a new book for the first time? I believe that touching the pages help us engage with the book. This is something electronic books cannot provide. This might not be so true for the magazines, but I believe printed books still have a few more generations to see.