The International Publishers Association congratulates publishers around the world who have been quick and innovative in their reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. IPA also praises government actions to control the spread of the virus and support cultural industries. IPA calls for industry solidarity to overcome the economic impact the disruption will bring and appeals to national and regional governments to ensure all those in the publishing value chain are supported.
The IPA is gathering links to the activities of publishers, their associations and governments on its site here:
- Many educational publishers around the world have reacted quickly to support teachers, parents and pupils suddenly confronted with homeworking;
- Many academic publishers have made any resources related to COVID-19 available for free;
- Many trade publishers have made eBooks available for free or at reduced prices and lifted licensing restrictions on posting public readings online among other initiatives;
- Publishers around the world have supported government messaging with social media campaigns for citizens to stay at home.
These acts of social solidarity are happening against a backdrop of severe disruption with many countries requiring bookstores to close, while book fairs have been cancelled, book releases delayed, and distribution suspended. The impact on the workforce that drives the publishing industry cannot be understated, as will undoubtedly be the case for other sectors. The livelihoods of many authors, booksellers, publishers and all the freelancers that support them are at risk. We will need to stand together to come through this and IPA is in touch with its international partners to see how we can be of most support at this time and in the future.
Why is publishing so important?
This crisis underlines why publishing is so important. Publishers are the source of the educational resources our teachers and pupils rely on in the classroom and they are working hard to find new ways to bring them to the home. Books are one of the forms of entertainment that people are turning to while in isolation to escape and understand what is happening. Published academic research is what will help our governments and researchers find ways to manage and treat the crisis. Through our commitment to challenging established thinking, preserving the history of our cultures, making room for new knowledge, and creating challenging artistic expression, publishing is what all of us need now and what we will all need more than ever once this crisis is over.
Government support required worldwide
Our industry will need governments to ensure that the survival of the creative industries as a whole, and publishing in particular, is covered by any economic stimulus packages and support mechanisms they put in place. We note the Federation of European Publishers’ call on the European Institutions and Member States and can only echo those calls to governments around the world.
The continued importance of copyright and freedom to publish
The reason why publishers at the moment are able to provide all this content for free in this extremely challenging situation, is because of copyright. Without copyright, these materials would not have been produced, because neither authors nor publishers would have had any incentive to invest time and money in them. And now, in these extraordinary circumstances, authors and publishers are exercising their rights to make their products available and therefore living up to the challenge.
IPA also notes the concerns voiced by journalist and press associations about this crisis being exploited to clamp down on freedom of speech and freedom of expression, ostensibly to limit misinformation around the pandemic. Never is the need for freedom to publish so evident as in times of crisis.
We must now continue our support for our imprisoned publisher colleagues. Prix Voltaire laureates like Gui Minhai, Raif Badawi and Khaled Lotfy as well as many Turkish journalists and authors like Barış Terkoğlu and Barış Pehliva, to name but a few, are in prison in conditions that put them at extreme risk. We urge governments to release these prisoners of conscience immediately.
Hugo Setzer, IPA President said: “Self-isolation around the world has seen a boom in reading. Books and reading are the ideal way of escaping our four walls but also to understand what is happening around us, how to overcome this and how to make our lives better in the future. We will need books and we will need each other. The International Publishers Association will play its role to support our international colleagues, our authors and readers, our researchers, our teachers and pupils, to overcome this crisis.”