By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Day One: Issues and Actionable ResponsesIn an announcement this morning (January 29) from its Geneva offices, the International Publishers Association (IPA) has issued an initial list of speakers for its May 28 to 30 International Publishers Congress in Lillehammer. More programming details are expected shortly.
The 33rd iteration of the biennial series of international congresses brings together representatives of the association’s 83 member organizations, representing 69 markets in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, and the Americas. Devised to spotlight key developments and challenges, the program is geared to practical realities for an international book business in a fast-evolving context of contemporary storytelling.
Timed this year to dovetail with the Norsk Litteraturfestival, the Norwegian Festival of Literature in Lillehammer, the program is expected to draw several hundred delegates.
The organizing duties are led by the Norwegian host organization and Kristenn Einarsson, best known in the association as the chair of the Freedom To Publish committee, which confers the IPA’s annual Prix Voltaire for “exemplary courage in upholding the freedom to publish and enabling others to exercise their freedom of expression.”
And on the first day, issues of the freedom to publish will be debated onstage by two Prix Voltaire nominees, the Iranian publisher Azadeh Parsapour and the South African cartoonist Jonathan “Zapiro” Shapiro, in an event moderated by the Tunisian journalist Sihem Bensedrine.
That follows an opening discussion about national development and its relation to a culture of literature with Maja Lunde, one of Norway’s best recognized authors, whose work in the children’s and YA sector includes at least 10 titles including The Coolest Gang in the World and Across the Border.
Her work in adult fiction includes The History of Bees (Simon & Schuster/Atria, 2018) and The End of the Ocean was just published in Diane Oatley’s English translation by Judith Curr’s HarperVia on January 14. Lunde is a keenly astute author in environmental issues whose output has sold into at least 35 countries and territories. Lunde was one of Frankfurter Buchmesse Guest of Honor Norway’s leading figures in October.
Day One also features the former United Nations under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor of India, who is to join publishers from Germany, Nigeria, and Brazil in addressing issues of diversity in storytelling.
Day Two: Educational Emphasis
The second day of the congress sees a dedicated track in educational publishing with highlighted speakers including:
- Tariq Al Gurg, who heads the philanthropic educational non-profit Dubai Cares
- Albert Nsengiyumva, CEO of the Alliance for the Development of Education in Africa
- Catherine Lucet of French publisher Editis
- Colin Hughes of Harper Collins UK
- Flavia Alves Brevin of Somos Educação in Brazil
- Sudhanva Dhananjaya of Excelsoft Technologies, India
Okechukwu Ofili, the Nigerian entrepreneur behind the digital reading platform OkadaBooks, is to lead a focus on “The Publishing Industry’s Digital Transformation Imperative,” reflective of the different pace at which parts of the world industry are moving forward with their adaptation to the reality of contemporary publishing.
And there will be insights from Roberto Banchik, who leads Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial’s Mexican and Central American division; IBBY president Mingzhou Zhang; and Noura Al Kaabi, the UAE’s minister for culture and knowledge development, who spoke at the IPA’s Middle East conference in September in Amman.
Working lunches themed on “Publishing Ecosystem Conversations” are to feature:
- Kopinor CEO Yngve Slettholm and the director of the Norwegian National Library, Aslak Sira Myhre on how publishers and libraries work together in collective licensing.
- Tore Slaatta and Helge Rønning on their research findings in the use of literary policy instruments around the world
IPA committee leads speaking at the congress are to include not only Einarsson but also Germany’s Jessica Sänger, who heads up the committee on copyright; Brian Wafawarowa, who is head of the inclusive publishing and literacy committees; Wilmar Diepgrond of the educational publishers forum; and Richard Charkin, a former president of the IPA and current Publishing Perspectives columnist.
The IPA’s current president is Hugo Setzer and its vice-president is Bodour Al Qasimi.
Seven Studies: New International Research
As detailed in our previous coverage, the Lillehammer congress is distinctive for its ambitious plan to present a seven-study suite of new reports. Einarsson has listed the incoming survey efforts as including:
- “Publishers’ Work and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” the UN SDGs. This, of course, is where many of the social-responsibility issues facing publishing today lie, including gender equality and other elements of the diversity conversation and the climate crisis
- “Lost Reading and Readers, and the Way Back” examines available research on declines in reading and will also spotlight efforts to combat the trend
- “What We Know About What Works” in learning materials and the digital dynamic’s impact on them will identify models that that can be seen to be working, as well as those that aren’t. This report is to come in with research papers and studies on learning materials, compiling recommendations for future digital strategies
- “How Is Educational Material Organized Around the World?” responds to the surprising range of approaches and the need for a comparative study of what various regions are doing
- “A Global Report on Copyright and Publishing” is being compiled in Geneva, where IPA has its headquarters, with the assistance of an independent researcher; the effort is to collate an overview of existing copyright laws in the countries where IPA has members and with the ultimate objective of covering all the member-states of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to help identify challenges
- “Best Public Policy Measures for the Publishing Industry” is being written by Norwegian professors Helge Rønning and Tore Slaatta, whose book is on Norway’s literary policy instruments; Ronning and Slaatta currently are updating a previous European survey and expanding its reach to other parts of the world
- “Challenges To the Freedom To Publish” is to sum and quantify up violations and threats, with case studies and regions and countries of most concern
Programming details, still in development, are outlined in this PDF, and—having run an initial discount around the holidays—the program has extended a reduced rate to potential delegates from the member-associations, good through the end of February.
You can find information about attendance and registration here.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the International Publishers Association is here, and more from us on the IPA’s world congresses is here. More on the Norwegian market is here. Publishing Perspectives is the international media sponsor of the IPA’s 33rd International Publishers Congress.