IPA Congress 2018: the convergence of global publishing industry


After extensive and meticulous planning by FIP and IPA, the 32nd International Publishers Congress finally ended on a high note! Together, the IPA and FIP had built a three-day programme peppered with fascinating international speakers who broached the key subjects in insightful, energizing ways, and offered their audience new visions, perspectives and learn new strategies to cope with changes taking place in the world publishing industry. The Indian publishing industry witnessed one of the major international events this February. Hosted by the Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP), the 32nd IPA International Publishers Congress came back with a bang, successfully held in New Delhi from 11-13 February, 2018 at Taj Diplomatic Enclave. This was only the second time that India had been given the responsibility to host the prestigious event; the first being way back in 1992.

Beginning on a high note, the opening ceremony of the IPA Congress was graced by esteemed dignitaries like Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of Earth Sciences, and Dr Michiel Kolman, IPA President. This was followed by a video message from Prakash Javdekar, Hon’ble Minister of HRD.

“The development of humanity has depended much upon the publishing industry because the books published have reached to the corners of the world,” said Prakash Javdekar. In his welcome speech Asoke K Ghosh, Chairman & Managing Director, PHI Learning Private Limited welcomed all the delegates on board and informed that all the topics have been chosen very carefully and the participants will be benefited from the outcome of the discussions. He ended speech by reciting a poem by Tagore. While extending vote of thanks FIP President, N K Mehra said that it is an honour for FIP to organize this conference again after a gap of 26 years and that a lot of effort has gone into making this event a success.

Theme of the conference…

The principal theme of the Congress was ‘SHAPING THE FUTURE: Innovation meets Experience’. Major international issues such as Copyright, Book Markets in India, Creating the readers of future and STM Publishing were among the several important topics those were discussed during the three day Congress.

The conference brought together over 400 delegates and accompanying guests from over 20 countries across the globe to share their experiences.

Day 1

The first session, the Global Leaders Forum, chaired by Asoke K Ghosh, featured Amitabh Kant (CEO of NITI Aayog – the National Institution for transforming India), former IPA Presidents YS Chi (Elsevier) and Richard Charkin (Bloomsbury), Matthew Kissner (John Wiley & Sons), N K Mehra, President FIP looking at the big picture around the systemic disruption of global publishing.

The second session Shaping the Future of Copyright featured two of the world’s foremost IP influencers: Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO, Switzerland and Maria Pallante, CEO, Association of American Publishers, USA, with Dr Michiel Kolman, president, IPA in chair tackling several key questions around how to create a functioning global digital marketplace for creative content?

PEN International President, Jennifer Clement, opened the final session, Do Awards and Recognition Help? chaired by Jessica Sanger with a compelling keynote reminding us that challenges to freedom of speech are global and that women in particular are the worst affected. She was in conversation with Prix Voltaire recipients 2017 Cavit Nacitarhan and Elif Günay and Prix Voltaire recipients 2018. This was followed by a moving first-hand update via Skype from Angela Gui, daughter of the 2018 IPA Prix Voltaire recipient Gui Minhai, on her father’s continuing ordeal.

Day 2

On the second day, IPA Vice President, Hugo Setzer, led the first session on the Social Responsibility of Publishers. 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. Sadhana Rout, the Director General of the Publications Division of the Government of India talked about the way her organization views social responsibility as a provider of maximum knowledge-based awareness to the maximum number of people. 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.

During the Responding to copyright challenges session, Paul Doda, Chair of the IPA’s Copyright Committee, asked Lui Simpson to give a round-up of the predicament that copyright finds itself in at the beginning of the 21st century. Lui spoke of the need for data to help construct a narrative in support of copyright. Louise Adler spoke about publishers’ struggle in Australia against the changes to the Copyright Act being pushed by proponents of US-style “fair use.” Rajiv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary at the Indian Department for Industrial Policy and Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce underlined the need for younger generations to be aware of intellectual property (IP) and respect both others’ and their own IP. Pravin Anand, Managing Partner at the Indian law firm Anand and Anand, stated that publishers need to be more vocal about what they do and how vital publishing is to a knowledge economy and spoke in detail of the Delhi University case.

Following the session, a brief speech by Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of Sharjah Book Authority, was addressed to the Congress. He mentioned that while there were no Emirati publishers in 1982, the number has increased to over 100 now.

The afternoon kicked off with a session on The Threat of Self Censosrshp in Publishing. A fascinating video address from Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses William Nygaard wherein he emphasized that if you are running a publishing house you need to be close to your authors and that self-censorship is a lack of leadership. Trasvin Jittidecharak lamented the lèse-majesté laws in Thailand. Jürgen Boos noted that even though he doesn’t agree with the right-wing publishers that register to exhibit at Frankfurt Book Fair he cannot exclude them, if they had not committed a crime.

Bodour Al Qasim led the session on Creating the readers of the future. IPA Executive Committee member Karine Pansa spoke of the fundamental importance of literacy. Gita Wolf of Tara Books and Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Managing Director of the MBD Group, talked about creating the readers of the future from two different perspectives – through parents instilling a love of reading and by publishers embracing the digital revolution. Zhang Mingzhou noted that, in China, online literature has piracy issues that the industry can’t handle alone.

The next session on “Online literature” was chaired by China’s Siying Zhang and featuring Zhang Mingzhou, Charlie Redmayne, HarperCollins UK and Amazon Westland’s V. Karthika.Charlie Redmayne spoke about HarperCollins UK’s strategy about using digital to make sure that Amazon does not become the only online retailer.

IPA Secretary General, José Borghino, was a panelist in the closing session Bringing publishing markets together chaired by Pierre Dutilleul and called on the publishing industry to take data collection seriously, as part of constructing a powerful narrative to government and others about the value of publishing. Ahmed Al Ameri, Jacks Thomas and Ramesh K Mittal spoke about how book fairs are a great opportunity to bring publishers from different cultures together.

Day 3

The final day of the Congress started with a detailed look at ‘Book Markets in India’ session, chaired by Asoke K Ghosh. Emma House, Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association UK, spoke about the size and importance of each publishing sector and the variety of languages. André Breedt of Nielsen noted that educational publishing dominates the Indian market. Himanshu Gupta (S Chand) claimed that Indian publishers are embracing digital as an enabler for hybrid learning. He was supported by Vikas Gupta of Wiley, India who called on publishers to become platforms for smart digital content.

The next session ‘Strengthening Education Publishing Capacity’ was chaired by Willmar Diepgrond from the German Westermann Group and Chair of the IPA’s dynamic Educational Publishers Forum (EPF). Other panelists include Spanish publisher and Vice Chair of the EPF, Jaume Vicens (VicensVives), Brian Wafawarowa, the President of the Publishers Association of South Africa Mathematician and former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, Professor Dinesh Singh, J S Rajput, former Director, NCERT and Ratnesh Kumar Jha, Managing Director, CUP India. The panelists discussed about the digital revolution that educational publishers are undertaking, the educational ecosystem that publishers work in and what resources are needed for successful lobbying of government.

IPA President, Dr Michiel Kolman, led the next session on ‘STM Publishing’, showing how this sector had deftly avoided predictions of its demise by actively embracing the very ‘disruptions’ that were meant to destroy it. FIP president, NK Mehra, gave the Indian perspective on this decades-long transformation of the sector, while Peter Wiley of John Wiley and Sons explained how his 200 year old company faced and embraced change and disruption with various levels of success. Sanjiv Goswami, Managing Director of SpringerNature India, expanded on the openness and sharing that SpringerNature embraced, as the leading Open Access publisher with advanced article and data sharing facilities.

Former IPA President, Ana Maria Cabanellas chaired the final session of the Congress, on ‘Collective Rights Management’. Caroline Morgan, CEO of the International Federation of Reprographic Rights Organisations (IFRRO) highlighted the differences between the collections and distributions of different RROs. Kevin Fitzgerald from WIPO underlined the cultural and economic importance of CMOs He was followed by Michael Healy, Executive Director of the Copyright Clearance Centre in the USA, who spoke of the perfect storm facing CMOs but reminded the audience that solutions were possible through voluntary licenses. And finally Rohit Kumar, consultant for the Indian Reprographic Rights Organisation, spoke of the need for the Indian government to decide whether it actively prioritized intellectual property rights for the benefit of Indian creators and rights holders or not.

The closure of the congress was marked with keynote speeches from proposed invitees. Closing ceremony with the congress resolutions was taken by Hugo Setzer, IPA vice-president, chair, IPA Congress Programming Committee; IPA president Dr Michiel Kolman and Asoke K Ghosh, FIP, Chairman and Managing Director of PHI Learning Private Limited and the panel announced the destination of the 33rd IPA International Publishers Congress – Lillehammer in Norway and handed over the flag to the host of International Publishers Congress 2020.

Book released…

A booklet “Book Publishing in India”: Innovation Meets Experience was also planned and published under the leadership of Nitasha Devasar, Managing Director, Taylor & Francis, who completed the book well in time despite all odds. This brief introduction to some aspects of Indian Publishing provides an overview of the industry and its recent trends and future prospects.

Agra Excursion

On 14th February 2018, delegates were taken on the excursion to Agra to visit Taj Mahal.

“The energy and support at the Congress were outstanding. Just in terms of the Congress, the work that the FIP put in to make the event a success was phenomenal. I think all of the delegates were impressed by that. In terms of the content, there were so many positive messages to take away from the different sessions, whether that came from the side of industry or policy makers. In my opening speech I called on the participants to shout about all the great things we do as an industry and they certainly did that. We all now need to take that energy and positivity beyond the Congress.”

-Dr Michiel Kolman, IPA President
‘Vibrant’ is how you can describe the 32nd Congress of the IPA. The Federation of Indian Publishers can justifiably be proud of its organizing ability with the three G’s (Ashok Gupta, Naveen Gupta and Pranav Gupta) excelling in all aspects. The 400 odd participants from around the globe were all praise and the Congress went off without a hitch.

The programs were a success and every speaker contributed to the thought process of what publishing is today and what it could be in future. Dr. Harsh Vardhan who inaugurated the Congress brought up the challenge of paperless society. The digital publishing found an echo from the very first program when Amitabh Kant exhorted the audience to look at the vast field of vernacular digitization that is possible. A big take away was the announcement from Kant that the government is committed to a strong copyright.

One could argue that the core problem of Indian School Book Publishing was not discussed and I could urge the IPA that in Congresses to come local issues should be discussed as the overseas speakers could provide a view point which may be totally different.

The momentos, not only to the speakers but to all the hardworking committee members and the sponsors was an innovation not seen in other meetings of the Congress. The sponsors did us proud by helping the Federation of Indian Publishers set standards that others would find difficult to follow.

The Congress ended with an equally vibrant ‘Bhangra’ which delighted the audience and many of the speakers joined in to dance to the strong rhythm.

My own feeling of future of publishing is rather mixed. On the one hand publishing is booming and on thThe energy and supporte other one finds bookshops closing down and publishers selling out. The print format is giving way to digital format and many publishers do not print any books. The academic institutions are increasing in number but the funding for the libraries, a source of sales for the publishers, is limited. The state support in promoting books and upholding copyright is the need of the hour.

-Narendra K. Mehra, President, FIP
“The International Publishers Congress was a great experience as it brought together both Indian and foreign publishers on one platform enabling a much-needed exchange of information. The sessions around future of books and publishing were very informative and helpful for people to understand the business needs of present era. Emerging technologies in terms of AI, Analytics, AR, VR are the key drivers to build differentiated products and require very structured approach to roles played by all stakeholders in the business environment. The future of publishers is all about focusing on their strength in content and collaborate with partners to use technologies for product enhancement.”

-Vikas Gupta, MD, Wiley India
“The IPA Congress, hosted by the Federation of Indian Publishers, was attended by members of the publishing fraternity from across the globe. The excellent planning and execution that went into the event showed in the seamless manner in which it unfolded. Apart from copyright and piracy issues and freedom to publish – the prime focus of the Congress – the efficacy of the legal system in providing robust support to the publishing industry was also examined. Insights into and perspectives on diverse teaching–learning techniques enabled participants to better understand patterns of content consumption, and the importance of encouraging the reading habit was reiterated. It was heartening to witness a discussion on how and why India could be a lucrative market for publishers, especially today when the Government of India is keen on reinventing the education system to adapt to current needs with special focus on digital literacy and skill building. The meritorious were recognised with awards including the founder of MBD Group, Shri Ashok Kumar Malhotra, was honoured with the Publishing Icon award. The main takeaway was that when we open our hearts and minds and share knowledge with each other we add value to our lives and to the world.”

–Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD, MBD Group
“Luckily we don’t live in an age where we wait for things to happen. Creating the future is what I truly believe in, and not in the mere prediction of it. The recently held IPA Congress is one such event that has reinstated this very notion, as I have been a witness to tremendous energy and zeal that has given the publishing industry a voice, a platform, and a clear path to tread on in the years to come. The task for publishers is greater than it ever has been, but I was thrilled and at the same time awed by the positivity and sheer hunger for success that made the event a memorable one. We are truly ready to take the future in our hands and create new benchmarks for the publishing world, and IPA Congress is the setting stone in that direction.”

-Pranav Gupta, MD, Prints Publications Pvt Ltd

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