Just recently, one year after being elected Vice-President of IPA, I was pleased to celebrate another IPA General Assembly during the Frankfurt Book Fair. Read the annual report here.
This has allowed me to reflect upon my exciting first year as Vice-President, where I had the opportunity to see firsthand and to collaborate in all the work we do on behalf of publishers around the world.
While supporting Michiel Kolman’s presidency, I had the chance of travelling to many different cities and visit our member publishers all over the world. Michiel did of course his own share of traveling, visiting, among other places, the USA, China, Japan, the UAE, Russia and many European countries. At the same time, our Secretary General, José Borghino, supported both of us also doing a lot of travel, visiting among many other places, Canada, Argentina, Georgia, China, Korea, the USA, many European cities and most recently my home country of Mexico.
This way we were able, between the three of us, to represent IPA and defend publisher’s interests in many places and events throughout the year. As ever before, our main pillars are protection of copyright and promotion of freedom to publish.
Our collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is highly important. Throughout the year, I visited IPA’s and WIPO’s offices in Geneva on two occasions and in addition represented IPA at three Latin-American WIPO workshops, held in Mexico City, San José, Costa Rica and Bogotá, Colombia. At all of them I spoke to different regional authorities about the importance of copyright and the risks of introducing broader copyright exceptions.
The Costa Rica workshop was for awareness building of the Marrakesh Treaty, where I had a chance of interacting with people from the blind and visually impaired (VIP) community and learn from them. Among many other things, I learned that less than 10% of the world’s published works are accessible for VIP. There is a very important opportunity for us as publishers, to help change that through the Accessible Books Consortium, a WIPO initiative where IPA and other NGOs participate actively. We can and we should make a difference for millions of VIP around the world. As our former president, YS Chi, has said: ‘Publishing in accessible formats is not just a moral decision, but a good business decision overall.’
In November I had the chance of participating in a large IPA delegation that attended WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meeting in Geneva. We had very productive meetings with country ambassadors to Geneva and their representatives, with WIPO officials and with representatives of other creative sectors NGOs. In these days when copyright is being constantly challenged, IPA’s strong presence at such meetings is fundamental, because it allows us to explain the importance of a robust copyright system that fosters and protects the creation of new and innovative works.
Bogotá and Lima were very early on the travel schedule for me, and I was able to talk to our members there, the Cámara Colombiana del Libro and the Cámara Peruana del Libro, to discuss the work they are doing on the ground on behalf of their members and how IPA could be of help.
Later during the year, I visited New Delhi and enjoyed the hospitality of our colleagues at the Federation of Indian Publishers, while discussing preparations for our IPA Congress in February 2018, about which I am really excited. I also visited the facilities of our magnificent venue hotel, the Taj Diplomatic Enclave. I learned many things about India, including that it is a country with rich cultural traditions and ancestry and, at the same time, the fastest growing economy in the G-20.
During this visit, I also went to Dhaka, where I was able to see firsthand all the work done by our new full member, the Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh. Together with the executive committee of ACPAB, we had a very constructive conversation with Bangladeshi Minister of Cultural Affairs, Asaduzzaman Noor, especially about freedom to publish.
I had the opportunity of participating in very fruitful meetings between IPA’s and FEP’s leadership in Brussels and in Geneva, as well as visiting the offices of our German member, the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, in Frankfurt.
There were many book fairs on my itinerary during this year. London, Buenos Aires, Göteborg, Madrid, Frankfurt and Guadalajara, where I had meetings with different IPA members to strengthen our ties and to discuss ways of collaboration.
In London we had meetings of all IPA committees and there was the highly interesting Charles Clark Lecture on copyright which the IPA co-sponsors. In Buenos Aires our Secretary General and I had meetings with our member, the Cámara Argentina del Libro, as well as with the other Argentinian publishers association, the Cámara Argentina de Publicaciones. We also met with the Argentinian Minister of Culture, Pablo Avelluto, who used to work as a publisher at Planeta and Random House Mondadori. And finally, with the untiring help of our ex-President Ana María Cabanellas, we organised a meeting of the Educational Publishers Forum (EPF) for Latin America.
As we all know, in many counties there are still severe restrictions on freedom to publish. For example, since the failed coup in Turkey in 2016, 29 publishing houses have been closed and their assets seized by the government. Their books were prohibited from sale in bookstores and schools. There are currently 157 journalists in prison, out of which 32 are also writers and publishers. Because of this, IPA awarded this year’s Prix Voltaire jointly to two courageous major figures of this drama. At the Göteborg Book Fair I had the privilege to present, together with the Chair of our Freedom to Publish Committee, the unstoppable Kristenn Einarsson, the Prix Voltaire to the Turkish writer and editor, Turhan Günay (through his daughter, Elif) and to Cavit Nacitarhan, Editor in Chief of Evrensel Publishing House of Turkey.
In November I welcomed our Secretary General to Mexico City to have meetings with the Mexican PA, the head of the Mexican IP office and the President of PEN International. After that we attended the Guadalajara Book Fair together, where we participated in a meeting of the Grupo Iberoamericano de Editores (an IPA member and the peak body for Latin American and Iberian publishers) and again of the EPF Latin America.
One of the amazing things about IPA is that we can always find common ground and opportunities for collaboration. The next chance to network and engage in productive dialogue with fellow publishers from around the world will be IPA’s International Publishers Congress in New Delhi, from 10-14 February 2018. Come and join us!