Our Industry

The book sector is made up of a dynamic range of individuals, businesses and organisations. In this section you can see a brief presentation of the book value chain.

The Publishing Value Chain


Authors write the works which publishers then seek to put in the hands of readers. The work of the author and their relationships with publishers varies depending on the publishing sector (trade, education or academic). Representative organisations include the International Authors Forum and PEN International.


Booksellers, whether they be brick and mortar stores or online platforms, help guide readers to the books they want. They are represented internationally by the European and International Booksellers Federation.


Libraries play a vital role in developing a reading culture and in supporting the wider book ecosystem. IPA monitors the challenges libraries face in issues such as preservation, parallel importation and orphan works, putting forward solutions which serve the interests of the publishing community.


When individual direct licensing is impractical or impossible, authors and publishers often mandate collective management organisations to manage certain rights collectively. Reproduction Rights Organisations (RROs) collect and distribute license fees on behalf of authors and publishers. Internationally, RROs are represented by their umbrella organisation, the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO). IPA has represented the international book and journal publishing industry on the IFRRO Board since 2004.

Books Fairs

Book fairs are where the book sector meets to exchange information about the latest opportunities and challenges as well as to buy and sell rights to the books they publish. Some book fairs are purely for professionals from the sector while others are open to the public and can be a major source of book sales. See IPA’s Book Fairs and Events listing.

Standards Organisations

IPA helps develop international standards for content identification, description and the facilitation of e-commerce with a view to promoting open, non-proprietory standards that can easily be implemented by large and small publishers around the world.


  • W3C (ACAP, accessibility)
  • ISO (ISBN, ISSN, ISTC, DOI): ISO TC 46 SC 9 is the technical name for the working group run through the International Standards Organisation (ISO) that develops and maintains ISO standards on the identification and description of information resources.
    • ISBN: 166 countries and territories are officially ISBN members. IPA is an observer on the International ISBN Agency Board.
    • ISSN: The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an eight-digit number which identifies all periodical publications as such, including electronic serials.


  • EDITEUR (ONIX, ONIX for Books, ONIX for Serials, ONIX for Licensing Terms)
    • ONIX: ONIX is a family of electronic messaging standards for the communication of book industry product information that share common elements. IPA is an active member of Editeur



Printers ensure books are made to the publishers’ specifications and are a crucial intermediary in the supply chain as the convergence of the publishers’ digital files, inks, papers and transport.

Data Providers

Publishers around the world use a range of service providers to monitor sales and other data about the book sector: e.g. Nielsen BookData, Bowker, others.

NGOs and Charities

There are wide range of Non-Governmental Organisations and charities connected to publishing. These include organisations promoting freedom of expression, literacy or the distribution of books to difficult to reach places (e.g. PEN International and its national chapters, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, Article 19, Index on Censorship).



The IPA works with the United Nations on two main projects:

  • Launched in 2019, the SDG Book Club enables children to interact and better understand the principles behind the UN’s Global Goals. Developed for children aged between 6-12, the club provides a curated reading list of books from around the world, available in all six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. New local language chapters continue to be added to the SDG book club family.
  • The SDG Publishers Compact, developed in 2020 by the UN and the IPA, features 10 action points that publishers, publishing associations and others can commit to undertaking in order to accelerate progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Signatories aspire to develop sustainable practices and act as champions of the SDGs, publishing books and journals that will help inform, develop and inspire action.


See our dedicated SDG dashboard for more information on how publishers are engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals.



World Book Capital

World Book & Copyright Day: Each year the World celebrates World Book and Copyright Day on 23 April, an international day recognized by UNESCO in 1995 to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright. In world literature, 23 April is a symbolic date. Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died on 23 April 1616. The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, booksellers traditionally give a rose as a gift with each book sold.

Learning Never Stops coalition, as the COVID Pandemic impacted education around the world, UNESCO created the Learning Never Stops coalition to bring stakeholders together to try to keep children everywhere learning despite school closures.



IPA is an accredited observer at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the United Nations specialized agency for intellectual property (IP). It is a self-funding agency of the United Nations, comprising 193 member states with a mission to lead the development of a balanced and effective international IP system that enables innovation and creativity for the benefit of all. As well as attending WIPO Committees that deal with issues related to copyright (e.g. Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, SCCR), IPA also collaborates with WIPO as a board member of the Accessible Books Consortium, the WIPO for Creators initiative, and on development projects to support the publishing sector e.g. Global Publishing Statistics, Publishers Circles, Publishers IP toolkit.



IPA also monitors developments at other international bodies such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (which conducts the PISA education surveys).