The professional section of the Geneva Book Fair programme featured a session on censorship this year. IPA’s Director of Communications and Freedom to Publish, James Taylor, moderated the session which featured the President of PEN Club France, Emmanuel Pierrat, Alexis Krikorian of Amnesty International and Madame Kadiatou Konaré of Cauris Livres.
Under the title, Censorship : An ever-changing hydra, the group followed up on a presentation of the preliminary findings of a study commissioned by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers. Anne-Marie Voisard, who is conducting the study, was unable to attend the fair but her work was presented by Laurence Hugues and Clémence Hedde. You can also read a good introduction to the study in this interview with Anne-Marie Voisard in Actualitté.
Some surprising issues came out of the study and we were able to pick up on them, most notably the idea that countries that do not have national book policies are essentially censoring their authors and publishers by not providing the support to create a sustainable publishing ecosystem. With most discussions on censorship calling for less government involvement, not more, this created a different angle to the discussions.
The session grew into a dynamic exchange of ideas and experiences from around the world touching on technology companies and social media, market dominance, and the use of fear by governments and extremist groups to silence authors and publishers.
The session did not finish on a negative note though, all of the speakers noted the brave work by many in the publishing industry to fight censorship, with the Tehran Uncensored Book Fair held up as a notable example.