IPA Prix Voltaire: 2019 Nominations Open, Recognizing Valor in Publishing

In News by Porter Anderson

Honoring publishing courage in the face of oppression, nominations for the IPA Prix Voltaire Freedom To Publish will close on February 20.

Voltaire’s statue and remains at the Pantheon in Paris. Image – iStockphoto: Vitaly Edush

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘So Many Brave Publishers Out There’
In a climate of such intense political dynamics in so many parts of the world, the 2019 IPA Prix Voltaire from the International Publishers Association (IPA) is likely to generate even more speculation, conversation, and, perhaps, nominations than ever before.

At 8 am. today (November 21) in Geneva at IPA headquarters—near Ferney, Voltaire’s home for several years—the organization’s Freedom To Publish Committee chairman Kristenn Einarsson is issuing the call for nominations.

Publishing Perspectives readers are familiar with the program as its profile has risen in recent years with the prominence of the prize’s honorees—most recently the Swedish national bookseller Gui Minhai, long detained in China, and given the Prix Voltaire in February at the IPA’s World Congress in New Delhi.

Another familiar face from the Prix Voltaire program is that of two-time nominee Azadeh Parsapour, who recently received the Association of American Publishers’ freedom-to-publish award and spoke with Publishing Perspectives in Sharjah about her work in publishing censored content from Iran.

The prestigious award is conferred in recognition of “exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their freedom of expression.”

The freedom to publish has become one of the two fundamental pillars of the IPA’s policy brief—the other being threats to copyright and intellectual property rights.

Details of the Nomination Process
  • The closing date for nominations is February 20.
  • The publishing professionals who make up the IPA Freedom to Publish Committee will work with committee chair Einarsson to identify a longlist to be announced around the London Book Fair (March 12 to 14) before agreeing on a shortlist and selecting the winner.
  • The IPA will announce the outcome in May 2019 and present the award during Seoul International Book Fair on Friday June 21.

The IPA Prix Voltaire laureate receives 10,000 Swiss francs (US$10,051), funded by a range of publishing community entities, both corporate and organizational.

Any individual, group, or organization can nominate a publisher, defined as an individual, collective, or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

Nominees will have recently published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record over many years of upholding the freedom to publish and freedom of expression.

Nominations are to be submitted by email using the application form to the IPA at prix-

‘For Those Who Are Kept Silent’

Michiel Kolman

In a prepared statement on the announcement of the new nominations round, IPA’s president, Michiel Kolman, is quoted, saying, “It has never been clearer why the freedom to publish stands alongside copyright as a pillar of the IPA’s work.

“It’s the international publishing community’s duty to support our colleagues risking their lives for their freedom to publish and for whom enforcing their copyright can only be an afterthought.

“There are so many brave publishers out there, let’s shine the light on them.”

Kristenn Einarsson

And Einarsson, as the lead on the committee is quoted, saying, “The freedom to publish is increasingly under threat. Strong publishers enable thoughts of authors that challenge the status quo to reach an audience.

“Promoting the inspirational stories of those publishers that becomes Prix Voltaire laureates, who continue to do this in the face of legal and sometimes physical intimidation is essential so that others can follow their lead.

“We also have to work continuously for those who are kept silent.”

Sponsors of the IPA Prix Voltaire, 2019
  • Albert Bonniers Förlag (Sweden)
  • Aschehoug (Norway)
  • Bonnier Media Deutschland (Germany)
  • Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (Germany)
  • Cappelen Damm (Norway)
  • Gyldendal (Norway)
  • Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (Germany)
  • Natur & Kultur (Sweden)
  • Norstedts (Sweden)
  • Verlagsgruppe Random

Those interested in becoming sponsors of the IPA Prix Voltaire are asked to use this email address: voltaire@internationalpublishers.org

More from Publishing Perspectives on the IPA Prix Voltaire is hereMore coverage of the International Publishers Association is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.