IPA’s President, Karine Pansa, and Vice President, Gvantsa Jobava, were part of the official welcome of Ukrainian publsihers as the spotlight country. Standing alongside Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Lords DCMS Minister and Arts and Heritage Minister. In a passionate address Ukrainian First Lady, Olena Zelenska spoke of how ‘Our culture is under attack just like we are’ and urged the attendees of the fair to ‘make the world better with the help of book’s. It certainly echoed the call from Ukrainian publishers at our recent Open Freedom to Publish meeting focusing on Ukraine where they asked to be treated as peers and for publishers from around the world to do business with them.
Next up was the opening of the Sustainability Hub – a new feature for this years fair – with three days of programming dedicated to different aspects of sustainability. Sherri Aldis, formerly head of UN publications and now Directorof the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe, opened the hub underlining the role the publishing sector has to play in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGSs. Her opening was followed by a photo of all the publishers at the fair who are SDG Publishers Compact signatories – there are now nearly 300 around the world. The first session proper looked at the Compact in more detail. That was led by Michiel Kolman, Chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee and the President of IPA at the launch of the SDG Book Club. In opening remarks, Karine Pansa, spoke about the journey of the publishing sector so far – from the book club to the compact and all of the other sector initiatives.
Kolman and Irina Lumelsky, acting Head of UN Publications, then dissected the progress around the Compact to a full audience. Lumelsky reporting on the results of a survey of Compact signatories.
Africa was in focus in the Focus Theatre, with Brian Wafawarowa, Publishers Association of South Africa President, leading a discussion between Lawrence Njagi (Kenya), Gbadega Adedapo (Nigeria), Mercy Kirui (Kenya) and Dr Bibi Yusuf Bakare (Nigeria) which Njagi described as ‘a meltdown of great insights into the past, present and the future of the African publishing scene. It was an excellent reflection on where we are, and where we want to go.’ You can read Olivia Snaije’s write up of that session in Publishing Perspectives here.
Pansa, meanwhile, was making her way to the Main Stage where she joined Maria Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers, and Nigel Newton, President of the Publishers Association here in the UK. The conversation flowed from the pandemic bumps in sales to developing opportunities and threats whether in the retail environment or supply chain, before closing on AI. María Pallante spoke eloquently about how important it is for publishers to be proud of what we do. But she also asked the audience to feel angry about the way that some people are trying to hijack the work of authors and their publishers. Karine Pansa reported that IPA research showed that those countries that survived the pandemic best had a well-developed reading culture and plus a mature financial infrastructure as well a government that acknowledged publising as essential. Countries that did not have these things fared badly.
Laura Brady, Co-Chair of IPA’s Accessibility working group was speaking on one of a number of sessions dedicated to the topic. The European Accessibilty Act is focusing many publishers minds on how to comply. Taylor & Francis and Kogan Page, winners of WIPO’s 2021 and 2022 Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing respectively were also present, sharing their experience.
In Parallel, IPA held its second committee meeting of the week (following a membership committee meeting on the Monday) with its Executive Committee meeting just outside the fair grounds.
Everyone was back in the Olympia for the afternoon session looking at the global copyright situation featuring Pallante, publishers Association CEO, Dan Conway and Publishers Association of South Africa President, Brian Wafawarowa. You can read the Publishing Perspectives preview of that session here.
The Sustainability Hub programming was covering the important role publishers have to play in education, featuring IPA EC members Lawrence Njagi (Kenya) and Pranav Gupta (India) and a session on the sustainability odd book fairs featuring London Book Fair’s Gareth Rapley talking with Frankfurt’s Juergen Boos.
With IPA’s team holding many meetings throughout the day it was a non-stop day 1.
Day 2 has a big copyright focus with a meeting of IPA’s Copyright Committee in the morning and the Charles Clark Memorial Lecture in the afternoon where Dr Andrea Garamuz will deliver his perspective on the intersections between copyright and artificial intelligence. IPA President Karine Pansa will also introduce the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who will be delivering the opening keynote.
Thanks to Lawrence Njagi, Caroline Cummins, José Borghino, Luiz Alvaro and Roger Tagholm for their contributions to the above.