Pictured: Sharif H. Banna

We asked Sharif H. Banna about the challenges in the publishing industry over the next 10 years

How has publishing changed in the last decade?

It’s slightly before our time, but when William Caxton introduced the printing press to late fifteenth-century England, he could never have predicted how technology would revolutionise the publishing industry during the centuries that followed. The pace of change has been particularly fast over the past ten years or so – and shows no signs of slowing down. The industry is being transformed, which presents publishers, marketers and technology experts with both opportunities and challenges. How people read, where they read, the ways in which they access books and articles – all of this has changed tremendously in recent years and will undoubtedly continue evolving, thanks to advances in digital technology. Imagine passing the time during a train journey a decade ago. The chances are you and your fellow passengers would’ve read paperbacks and newspapers. But nowadays, with the increasing popularity of mobile phones, tablets and similar mobile devices, you’re all perhaps more likely to be enjoying eBooks and web-based articles instead.

Can you tell us more about your new book?

My new book is called 114. Actually it's a series of books based on my research on the Quran for the last 10 years. Each chapter of the Quran will be published as a book which essentially means 114 books in total. I am hoping that this new understanding of the Quran will add to the vast literary heritage on the Quran and its understanding inshallah

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I start by jotting down what I need to find out. It’s often useful to write down specific questions as opposed to general themes. Once you are clear what you are after, organise your questions. Group similar topics and questions together. This will make your research more manageable. Once you know which sources to use, make a note of these next to the questions.For example, if you know that the books you need are in different libraries, write down which books are where. Jot down any other information or reminders for yourself, too. Your rough research plan is now ready. It’s usual to treat it as an evolving document: it functions best when you develop and modify it as you go along and learn more about your research area. Remember to keep it up to date.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. To summarise, I will end with a quote from Wayne Dyer, Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.

What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

It has to be when I was learning the Arabic langauge at a young age and then when the prayer was being recited I started to understand for the first time. For many non Arabs whose mother tongue is not Arabic, they will understand exactly how I felt.

Books by Sharif H. Banna

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