Hugo Setzer

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Hugo Setzer

Hugo Setzer

Hugo is, since 1990, CEO of Manual Moderno, which is a leading publishing house in the fields of medicine and psychology in Spanish language, based in Mexico City and with subsidiary offices in Bogota, Colombia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the National University in Mexico and an MBA degree from the IPADE Business School. 

At present Hugo is Vice-President of the International Publishers Association, where he has also served on its Executive Committee from 2004 to 2010 and from 2013 to present. 

Hugo has taken part, also as speaker, at several IPA congresses since 1984, when it was held in Mexico City. 

He has participated in the Mexican Publishers Association since 1995, where he has served on its executive board on several occasions and was Vice-President from 2004 to 2006 and from 2010 to 2013. 



Why should publishers care? A group of outstanding speakers tried to answer this question during the session I had the honour to chair on “Social Responsibility of Publishers”.

Mr. Dipendra Manocha, who works with the DAISY Consortium and is President of the National Association for the Blind in Delhi, talked about the famine of accessible books for visually impaired persons (VIP) and the need to change this reality. He described the Marrakesh Treaty as an important legal tool and praised publishers for their full support of this initiative and their openness to dialog with the blind organizations. One of the relevant features of the Marrakesh Treaty is that it is designed to give access to content to VIPs, while at the same time guaranteeing protection of copyright. He furthermore explained the importance of the work of the Accessible Books Consortium, a WIPO initiative which has the participation and support of IPA and other international organizations. The way to think of publishing for the future should be inclusive publishing so no users are excluded from access to our publications.

Ms.Sadhna Rout, the Director General of the Publications Division of the Government of India and longstanding civil servant who has worked in all social sector ministries and departments and with UN organizations, explained the government perspective.  Ms. Rout talked about the way her organization views social responsibility as a provider of maximum knowledge-based awareness to the maximum number of people. For private publishers profits are of course important, but they have to see their mission in a more holistic way, taking into account all stakeholders.

Mr. Henrique Mota, who is the international representative of the Portuguese Publishers Association and the President of Federation of European Publishers, talked about the positive impact of books in society and the role of publishers delivering ensuring trustworthy publications. He said the professional publishers have the right to publish all books and to refuse to produce books that reject truth, knowledge and wisdom. The process of validating content is one of the important ways publishers add value.

The session analysed different approaches of social responsibility and agreed on the importance of working on the wellbeing of all stakeholders in a business. “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business” (Henry Ford). It offered also a nice link to the sessions to follow during the day on Copyright, Freedom to Publish and Educational Publishing.  

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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!


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I recently had a chance to visit Dhaka to meet the IPA’s member there, the Academic and Creative Publishers Association of Bangladesh (ACPAB).

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Earlier this month I visited New Delhi for the first time, to discuss with our Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) colleagues the preparations for the 32nd IPA Congress, on 10-14 February, 2018. 

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This week I was in San José, Costa Rica, for a WIPO workshop on the Marrakesh Treaty (…to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities), and the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), on 13-15 June. 

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Occasionally, copyright and the rights of disabled people are framed as somehow incompatible—as though the former may preclude the latter—but to my mind these rights are definitely not mutually exclusive.

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