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International Publishers Congress Blog - Day 2

by in Publishing industry

After yesterday's intense high-level discussions about the future of publishing, copyright and freedom to publish, the second day began with a series of panels about the nitty gritty of publishing and finished with an emotional roller coaster and two standing ovations.

IPA Vice President, Hugo Setzer, led the first session on the social responsibility of publishers, which talked about the importance of WIPO's Marrakesh Treaty and the work of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), as well as how publishers aren't in it just for the money but also for truth and knowledge. Stay tuned for a full blog from Hugo tomorrow.

Responding to copyright challenges, Paul Doda, Chair of the IPA's Copyright Committee, asked Lui Simpson to give a round-up of the predicament that copyright finds itself in at the beginning of the 21st century. Liu spoke of the need for data to help construct a narrative in support of copyright. Louise Adler spoke about publishers' struggle in Australia against the changes to the Copyright Act being pushed by proponents of US-style "fair use". She said that the rights of users should not exceed the rights of creators. Pravid Anand spoke in detail of the Delhi University case.

The afternoon kicked off with a fascinating address from Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses William Nygaard, where he noted the immense pressure on publishing coming in different forms from government, libel laws and extremism. He emphasized that if you are running a publishing house you need to be close to your authors and that self-censorship is a lack of leadership. Trasvin Jittidecharak lamented the lèse-majesté laws in Thailand. Jürgen Boos noted that even though he doesn't agree with the right-wing publishers that register to exhibit at Frankfurt Book Fair he cannot exclude them, if they had not committed a crime.

Bodour Al Qasim led the session on creating the readers of the future. IPA Executive Committee member Karine Pansa spoke of the fundamental importance of literacy. Gita Wolf of Tara Books and Monica Malhotra Kandhari, managing director of the MBD Group, talked about creating the readers of the future from two different perspectives - through parents instilling a love of reading and by publishers embracing the digital revolution. Zhang Mingzhou noted that, in China, online literature has piracy issues that the industry can't handle alone. We'll have a full blog from Bodour on this session tomorrow.

Zhang Mingzhou again featured in the next session on "online literature" chaired by Zhang Siying from the Publishers Association of China. He spoke about how online development has created a boom in writers in China, something that was previously a preserve of the elite. Charlie Redmayne spoke about HarperCollins UK's strategy about using digital to make sure that Amazon does not become the only online retailer.

IPA Secretary General, José Borghino, was a panelist in the closing session chaired by Pierre Dutilleul and called on the publishing industry to take data collection seriously, as part of constructing a powerful narrative to government and others about the value of publishing. Ahmed Al Amedi and Jacks Thomas spoke about how book fairs are a great opportunity to bring publishers from different cultures together.

The day finished with powerful testimonies from the families of two publishers who have suffered for their commitment to freedom to publish. First Angela Gui, receiving the 2018 IPA Prix Voltaire on Gui Minhai's behalf evoked Voltaire himself: "I think that my father's version of optimism is perhaps precisely the kind that Voltaire describes. It's an optimism that in the face of unimaginable cruelty still believes in change. And it's an optimism that isn't crushed by lies, force and humiliation."

Bangladeshi Publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan was given a posthumous Special Award. His widow, Razia Rahman Jolly, told the audience, "We have sacrificed our sunshine. We are in darkness," but she promised to continue her husband's work and keep publishing books in Bangladesh.

And with that the second day of the IPA Congress was brought to an emotional close.

The final day of the Congress will include sessions on book markets in India, strengthening education publishing capacity, STM publishing, collective rights management and finally the closing ceremony including the announcement of the location of the 2020 IPA International Publishers Congress.

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James Taylor joined the IPA As Director of Communications and Freedom to Publish in January 2018. 

Prior to joining the IPA in Geneva, James was based in Brussels where he looked after communications and public affairs at the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA), the European grouping of collective management organisations for screenwriters and directors. He started his career in Brussels dealing with communication and membership services at the Independent Music Companies Association, IMPALA.

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Guest Monday, 21 January 2019