The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee (FtPC) is responsible for picking the shortlist and final winner.

The nine-strong body of publishing professionals from Argentina, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Norway, Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the United States felt the following nominees, in alphabetical order, deserved to go through to this year’s shortlist:

  • Khaled Lutfi (Egypt)
  • NB Publishers (South Africa)
  • Azadeh Parsapour (Iran/UK)
  • Tekin Publishing House (Turkey)
  • Moe Way / The Eras (Myanmar)

IPA Freedom to Publish Committee chairman Kristenn Einarsson said “The work of these publishers is remarkable, working in extremely difficult circumstances to bring authors’ words and thoughts to readers. They have all demonstrated phenomenal courage and we are proud to recognise them in the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist.”

The IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee will select the eventual 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire recipient, with the award presentation taking place at Seoul International Book Fair on Friday 21 June.

About the nominees

Khaled Lutfi, Publisher and Bookseller, Egypt

On February 4, according to reports, Khalid Lutfi, founder of Cairo’s Tanmia Bookshop and Publishing, was sentenced to five years on charges of divulging military secrets and spreading rumors for having distributed an Arabic translation of the book The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel, by Uri Bar-Joseph. The case started when Tanmia’s founder signed an agreement with Arab Scientific Publishers to publish an Egyptian edition of the book.

Tanmia Bookshop opened in 2011 and later spawned a highly respected publishing house. The publishing house brought out a number of acclaimed authors in translation; in 2016 Lutfi told Ursula Lindsey that two of his most popular titles were by George Orwell and Stephen Hawking. Tanmia also published original works in Arabic, including a children’s book version of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem “Think of Others,” which won an Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature.

Although some authors and publishers have been reluctant to speak out about the case, there is a solidarity campaign using the hashtag #متضامن_مع_خالد_لطفي. Source: ArabLit


NB Publishers, South Africa

NB Publishers is a publishing company in South Africa with imprints working across most genres.  One imprint, Tafelberg, was behind one of the most controversial books in South Africa, The President’s Keeper, by Jacques Pauw. The book revealed many cases of state capture which are now being investigated. The book was published amid intimidation and harassment of both the author and publishing house (with a risk of jail and physical harm), including from the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service – both targeted by the book.  The book has gone on to be huge commercial success and won the most prestigious national award, the Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award.


Azadeh Parsapour, Nogaam Publishing, Iran/UK

Azadeh Parsapour is a publisher of Farsi language e-books through Nogaam Publishing which uses crowdfunding and creative commons licences as a way of bypassing payment restrictions in Iran. She is also the one of the organisers of Tehran Book Fair Uncensored and it’s accompanying journal. Her outspoken work on freedom of expression means that she would be unable to return to her home country.

Parsapour is a guest blogger for the IPA, spoke at IPA-connected events at London Book Fair in 2018 and Sharjah International Book Fair 2018. She received the Association of American Publishers’ International Freedom to Publish | Jeri Laber Award in September 2018.


Tekin Publishing House, Turkey

IPA received 54 near-identical nominations from a variety of nominators in Turkey, including Cavit Nacitarhan of Evrensel Publishing House, Prix Voltaire recipient in 2017. Tekin Publishing House was founded in 1962 The company has a history of publishing books that hold the country’s leaders to account and standing behind its authors. It has faced numerous financial penalties and has found its books removed from certain retailers and the company itself unwelcome at some book fairs.

Tekin Publishing House received the Turkish Publishers Association Award of Freedom of Thought and Expression in 2018.


Moe Way / The Eras Publishing House

Moe Way is the pen name of author Sein Win who helped established The Eras Publishing House in 2001. Founded as a publisher of poetry, the company has seen a number of its books censored by the Press Scrutiny Board. Despite the constant restrictions placed on the company’s publications, Moe Way has steered the company through financially challenging times to establish it as a leading poetry publishing house for the pioneers of modern Myanmar poetry and a number of dissidents.

Image sources: Facebook


About the IPA Prix Voltaire

The IPA Prix Voltaire is unique in honouring the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assume the same risks as the writers themselves.

Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire recognizes.

The sponsors of the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:

 PV Sponsor cloud 2019 

About the IPA

The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the world’s largest federation of publishers’ associations with 81 members in 69 countries. Established in 1896, the IPA is an industry body with a human rights mandate. The IPA’s mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness of publishing as a force for economic, cultural and social development. Working in cooperation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and numerous international NGOs, the IPA champions the interests of book and journal publishing at national and supranational level. Internationally, the IPA actively opposes censorship and promotes copyright, freedom to publish (including through the IPA Prix Voltaire), and literacy.