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Pressure on Publishers: Challenging norms and navigating controversy

Venue: Frankfurt Pavillion

Date and time: Thursday 19 October, 15:00 – 16:00

Societal progress around issues such as diversity and inclusion and reckoning with discrimination have led to new pressure on publishers to be more inclusive and representative in their business practices and publishing output. But these efforts can also prove controversial, with sensitivity readers labeled censors and publishers being accused of wokeism and being caught up in politicised culture wars.

Moderator:  Porter Anderson, Publishing Perspectives


  • Sherif Bakr, Al Arabi, Egypt
  • Trasvin Jittidecharak, Silkworm Books, Thailand
  • Michiel Kolman, Chair of the IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee 
  • Åse Ryvarden, Aschehoug, Norway


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Porter Anderson ( @Porter_Anderson ) BA, MA, MFA, is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives, the daily news medium of Frankfurter Buchmesse for the world publishing industry. Anderson is a veteran newsman with CNN,, and CNN International–as well as the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, The Bookseller and others. He was named London Book Fair’s  International Trade Press Journalist in the 2019 International Excellence Awards. In addition to his career in news, Anderson has worked as a diplomat with the United Nations, posted to the Rome headquarters of the World Food Programme. He has also served as Executive Media Producer of INDEX: Design to Improve life, the Danish award for humanitarian design under the patronage of HRH Frederik, Prince of Denmark. Anderson is a frequent speaker on the international publishing stage, in trade shows and book-fair settings in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East.

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Sherif Bakr has worked in publishing since 1997. Worked in Al Arabi Publishing and Distributing for 26 years now. 

Al Arabi Publishing and Distributing was founded in 1975, in the last 13 years Al Arabi started a series #Different_Books with over 400 titles from 65 countries. 

He worked as General Secretary of the Egyptian Publishing Association where he was responsible for the Development and e-publishing committee for 4 years. Bakr is also elected Three times as a member of the Freedom to Publish committee in the International Publishing Association, and a member of the Book and Publication Committee of the Supreme Council of Culture in Cairo, and part of the Egyptian Export Council for Printing, Packaging, Paper, Literary and Artistic Works.

Has been a speaker and lecturer at many conferences and book fairs.

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In 1991, Trasvin Jittidecharak founded Silkworm Books, a general independent publisher of English-language books. Silkworm’s publications are distributed in the US via the University of Washington Press. They are known among academics and students of Southeast Asia studies. It has been working on many publication projects with the most prestigious institution, École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO). Silkworm has published translation works from many languages to Thai and English. In 2017, Trasvin launched the ASEAN Illustration Award and co-founded the International Children’s Content Rights Fair (ICCRF) in Thailand.

Trasvin was an advisor to the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand (PUBAT; 2009–15 and 2019–21) and was a focal person of the Bangkok UNESCO World Book Capital City in 2013. She chaired the 30th International Publishers Association (IPA) Congress of the Organizing Committee, Bangkok, 2015. She sat on the Executive Committee of the IPA from 2012 to 2017. She was the Secretary-General of the ASEAN Book Publishers Association (ABPA), 2020–21. From 2017 to the present, Trasvin has been a member of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee.

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Dr. Michiel Kolman is Senior VP Strategic Networks at Elsevier and former President of the International Publishers Association, where he now chairs Inclusive Publishing and Literacy. 

Michiel served on the board of the Federation of European Publishers and the Accessible Books Consortium at WIPO. At Elsevier and across the publishing industry Michiel supports the SDGs, promotes climate change and pushes for a more diverse and inclusive world.

Michiel is co-chair of the Workplace Pride Foundation supporting LGBTI workplace inclusion. He is the executive sponsor of Elsevier Pride and was listed two years in a row in the FT’s Top100 ranking of most influential LGBT senior executives.

Since joining Elsevier in 1995, he has held various core publishing roles in Amsterdam and Tokyo. He launched one of the first online journals in the industry in 1996: New Astronomy. Michiel was Managing Director in Frankfurt, Germany. For 10 years, he spearheaded academic relations for Elsevier, building up a global network of ambassadors engaged in strategic discussions with research leaders. Today he continues to engage with research and government leaders in his role as Academic Ambassador. At Elsevier he is also responsible for climate change and thought leadership. 

Prior to Elsevier, he worked for Wolters Kluwer in a division that is now part of Springer Nature. Michiel holds a degree from Leiden University in the Netherlands and a PhD in astrophysics from Columbia University in New York, where he studied with a Fulbright scholarship.

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Åse Ryvarden is Literary Director at Aschehoug forlag, and is a member of the Freedom of Expression committee at The Norwegian Publishers Association.

Educated in Arts, she has been working in the publishing Industry and in the performing arts since the 1980s.

You can access our full program here.