“IPA is a trade organisation with a human rights mandate”
says Dr Michiel Kolman, president, International Publishers Association, who was recently in Delhi in conversation with Varsha Verma of All About Book Publishing. He also briefed about some of his responsibilities as the newly elected IPA president and the objectives that IPA has been currently working on. Excerpts. The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the world’s largest federation of national, regional and specialist publishers’ associations. Its membership comprises 70 organisations from 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and the Americas. Through its members, IPA represents thousands of individual publishers around the world who service markets containing more than 5.6 billion people. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, IPA represents the interests of the publishing industry in international fora and wherever publishers’ interests are at stake.
Dr Michiel Kolman, president, International Publishers Association, briefs us about the key pillars of IPA and the trends within the publishing industry. Excerpts.
Two key pillars of IPA…
“One of the two key pillars of IPA remains protection of copyright, which we feel is very crucial as without protection of copyright, publishers cannot make deep investments. As an organisation, we fight for copyrights. At the international level, we work with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).We also work regionally and are involved with legal interventions like that in Singapore and here in Delhi (Delhi University photocopy case). We organised a lot of activities around these cases,” said Dr Kolman. “Authors and publishers should be rewarded for their work and they should not be undermined by piracy.”
Another key pillar for IPA remains Freedom to publish. “We are trade organisation with the human rights mandate. Freedom to publish is a fundamental subset of freedom of expression, and is a prerequisite for a thriving publishing industry, which is itself an essential part of a democratic society and a basis for a knowledge economy. The protection and promotion of freedom to publish is therefore one of IPA’s key objectives,” told Dr Kolman. “Publishers take a lot of personal, physical and financial risk by publishing controversial works. Thus, we try to protect and promote freedom to publish. In my two years of presidency at IPA, I wish that our efforts towards Freedom to publish are either stable or even stronger than before.”
The IPA Prix Voltaire…
Interestingly, in 2005, the IPA created the Freedom to Publish Prize to honour a person or organization adjudged to have made a significant contribution to the defence and promotion of freedom to publish in the world. In 2016, the prize was renamed the IPA Prix Voltaire, in tribute to the French philosopher and writer François-Marie Arouet (penname Voltaire), who propounded a doctrine of tolerance and free expression before the terms were in general use. Moreover, between 1755 and 1759 Voltaire lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where the IPA is based, before moving to the nearby French border town of Ferney, which was renamed Ferney-Voltaire in his honour after the French Revolution,” added Dr Kolman.
The 2017 presentation of the IPA Prix Voltaire will return to the Göteborg Book Fair, Sweden, 11 years after the first ‘IPA Freedom Prize’ was awarded to Iranian publisher Shalah Lahiji, in September 2006.
Trends in publishing industry…
“It is the beginning of the digital revolution, which surely hasn’t finished yet. Some companies are very advanced like the STM publishers who have gone 80-90% digital. But it is not so in other genres. But, digital publishing offers incredible level of opportunity as new formats are evolving and gives intimacy with the end-user, the reader, which was never before. For example, since STM is digital, there is a wealth of analytics which help us develop further products, which we could never think before, he shared. “We also feel that children book publishing will change completely as children are more comfortable reading on hand held devices like tablets, iPads, mobile phones, etc.”
Another important fact that Dr Kolman mentioned was that in the era where there is so much development of fake news, publishers have a strong role to play in publishing reliable and quality information.
Trends in Indian publishing industry…
“In many countries like India, I see that there is a lot of importance on education. The society is changing dramatically and internet has interconnected people and things. There is a development of quantum computing which will allow incredible amount of data being processed faster. India, being a young nation, is embracing change of future and this is a good sign for the industry as education publishers help in this transformation by offering quality content for the society,” said Dr Kolman.
“Associations play an important role and publishing associations in India are very successful and contribute a lot to bring a change in the society,” he added.
On 2018 IPA Congress…
The 2018 IPA Congress will be held in the plush Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi from February 11-13, 2018, with around 900 delegates in attendance. This is the second time the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) has assumed responsibility for the now biennial congress, having first staged it in 1992. “FIP is fully committed to bring an extremely ambitious and successful programme and we are expecting a very strong attendance from abroad and India,” said Dr Kolman.
The theme of the congress is ‘Shaping the Future Innovation Meets Experience,’ where experts will present, question, debate, analyze—and finally emerge with a new set of perspectives, ideas and takeaways. “The topics will include Copyright, Freedom to Publish, Children Publishing, Educational Publishing, Digital and Print, Library Movement, Self Publishing, STM Publishing, Asia as a Market and India as a Market, etc,” he added. The speakers will include not only from publishers community but also technology companies.
“It will be a perfect place to showcase what India can do in publishing, boost a lot of publishing and give a quantum leap of knowledge to young publishers. International players can learn a lot from innovations happening in India and vice versa,” concluded Dr Kolman.