Caribbean publishers urged to regroup

“We need to equip member publishers to become competitive through the use of new technologies and the application of Information Communication Technology to foster knowledge creation and dissemination,” she said.

Soodeen is urging publishing operations across the region to make optimum use of the CAPNET website to market and expose their work to a wider audience.

“The site was set up to connect publishers to service providers and distributors, market books and magazines to the world, and will soon have an e-commerce platform where Caribbean publishers will be able to sell products on line,” noted the head of the Trinidad-based Toute Bagai Publishing Company, producers of MACO Magazines,

“As President, I am focused on reigniting CAPNET as an organization, increasing membership and marketing our Caribbean products to the world. I am also determined to reposition the industry into the digital era and organize workshops for CAPNET members to allow them to keep up in an ever-changing industry,” Sooden added.

CAPNET was registered in 2000 under the laws of Jamaica. But it became dormant and towards the end of 2009 was re-launched with new by-laws, a website and the election of a new Council led by Soodeen.

Despite its many accomplishments, including representation on the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) task force on culture, CAPNET, which is one of the few organized groupings within the cultural industries of the region, has recently experienced a membership fall-off.

Soodeen blamed the lack of interest on funding and the global economic and financial crisis which had a telling effect on small, underdeveloped sectors like publishing.

“CAPNET has never been able to sustain a functioning secretariat, and most activities were carried out through voluntary efforts by members and funding for short periods for specific events. As a result, CAPNET members were forced to focus on survival of their businesses while having to contend with rising costs, loss of export markets and weak local demand,” she added.

However, Soodeen says there is a new awareness among the leadership of CAPNET and as the world economies begin to emerge from the recession, the regional publishing industry will need to urgently regroup.

Immediate priorities include attracting a new generation of publishing talent at all levels of the industry.

“Caribbean publishing has failed to attract and maintain young entrepreneurial recruits within the industry,” she observed, adding that CAPNET is now being positioned to advocate for training opportunities and to introduce publishing-related modules to courses offered at the tertiary level.

Soodeen said training must become a top priority for CAPNET if its members are to remain competitive or even relevant in the context of a world that is driven by new technologies and new modes of producing and delivering information and knowledge.

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