Ahead of the fair, IPA’s Executive Committee had met on Monday afternoon, discussing a range of issues that would come up during the different sessions of the week at the fair.


IPA’s President, Karine Pansa, and Vice President, Gvantsa Jobava, were involved in the Fair’s programming straight away with Pansa opening the Sustainability Hub for its second year and Jobava speaking at its first session.

After the success of the hub last year, the Opening Panel of the Hub was a triumphant return for London Book Fair Event Director Gareth Rapley, who spoke alongside Karine Pansa, and Chief of UN Publications Mary Glenn.

Glenn underlined that progress on the SDGs has been insufficient but that it was up to everyone to redouble their efforts. Pansa congratulated the fair for facilitating dialogue on issues around the SDGs and recognised that the book sector is not standing still. Progress is being made but more can be done.

Following the opening, a panel was held on “How to Achieve the SDGs: Navigating the Challenges and Future Ahead” at the Hub, with the panelists including IPA Vice President Gvantsa Jobava, IPA Data and Statistics Committee Chair Pranav Gupta, IPA Inclusive Literacy and Publishing Committee Chair Dr. Michiel Kolman, as well as UN Publications Chief Mary Glenn.

As that conversation continued, Pansa had made her way to the main stage for a panel on “Exploring the Ever-Evolving World of Publishing: Global Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities”.  She was joined by FEP President Ricardo Franco Levi, APNET President Lawrence Njagi, and London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement laureate (more on that later), and erstwhile IPA President, YS Chi. The conversations centered on the publishing industry’s ongoing transformation due to “technology and connectivity.” The panelists discussed this shift, its challenges and opportunities, and the role of publishers in this new paradigm. They emphasized the need to adapt in the face of such changes while also maintaining the “essence of traditional publishing.”

Pansa identified AI as the key subject of discussion for IPA and encouraged publishers to work more at showing the value they bring to books. On the issue of AI, Ricardo Franco Levi was able to congratulate the European Parliament for its adoption of the EU AI act just a couple of hours earlier. YS Chi underlined the importance of publishers being sources of trusted content. Lawrence Njagi spoke of the opportunities in Africa with a huge, digitally savvy, youth population.

The Main Stage programming continued to cover key issues shifting to a main stage session looking at how to make publishing more sustainable by 2030

This was followed by a keenly attended discussion on copyright and artificial intelligence featuring Maria Pallante (AAP, USA), Glenn Rollans (ACP, Canada), Dan Conway (PA, UK), and Nicola Solomon (SoA, UK). Both Conway and Solomon stressed how politicians in the UK had heard the calls of publishers for their rights to be respected. Pallante summarised the state of play in the USA while Rollans shared the perspective from Canada where AI is dominating discussions but with no reference to copyright so far – something which is an extra concern in a country where the copyright exception for education has caused significant damage.

While copyright dominated the main stage, the bustling activities of the Sustainability Hub concluded for the day with a panel on education titled “Placing Future Generations at the Heart of the SDGs,” chaired by Lisa Lyons Johnston, Global Publishing Consultant and PublisHer Board Member. The four panelists were Irina Lumelsky from the Department of Global Communications of the United Nations, Paul Rockett from Hachette Children’s Books, Miranda McKearney from EmpathyLab, and Samuel Kolawole from University Press Plc, Nigeria. The panel sought to “showcase great examples of practical mechanisms and concrete steps to inspire everyone from educators and authors to publishers and educational services to put the interests of future generation at the heart of their SDG work.”

The speakers all highlighted the role of children in advancing the SDGs with Kolawole sharing that the African SDG club has stimulated action among a number of stakeholders.

The final Main Stage session was moderated by IPA’s own Secretary General, José Borghino who led a discussion on The Marrakesh Treaty and Global Accessibility in Publishing with FEP’s Anne Bergman-Tahon, IPA Past President Hugo Setzer, and authors Selina Mills and Claire Wade.

Jose Borghino gave a whistle stop background to the Marrakesh treaty but it’s success as a treaty was quickly put into context by Mills and Wade who lamented the absence of information about the treaty and their feeling that publishing was still too slow to embrace accessibility. Setzer spoke of the gap between the legal framework and the practice referencing the work of WIPO’s ABC in doing this as well as publishers developing the process of incorporating accessibility in publishing workflows. Bergman-Tahon was able to present the EU Accessibility Act, the particular challenges that some types of publishers face as well as the need for publishing sector software providers, like Adobe InDesign, to ensure their software facilitates accessible publishing.

IPA’s day closed with a visit to the AAP reception where YS Chi was presented with his LBF Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tomorrow will see more of a copyright focus for IPA with a meeting of its Copyright Committee and the day closed by the prestigious Charles Clark Memorial Lecture.


Tuesday, 12th March 2024