Towards a stronger, united IPA to defend publishers’

interests across the globe

–That’s the aim of the new President and Vice President of International Publishers Association (IPA). Hugo Setzer and Bodour Al Qasimi are the new President and Vice President of IPA. The pair take up their new positions from 1st January 2019.


Hugo Setzer (HS) is from Mexico where he is the CEO of Manual Moderno, a leading Spanish language publishing house in the fields of medicine and psychology with offices in Mexico City and Bogota, Colombia. While, Bodour Al Qasimi (BAQ) is Founder and CEO of the Kalimat Group, a leading children’s publisher in the United Arab Emirates. Here, Hugo and Bodour share more about their new roles.

AABP: Congratulations on your new positions. Please share your responsibilities at IPA?

Hugo Setzer, President, International Publishers Association (IPA)
Hugo Setzer, President, International Publishers Association (IPA)

HS: Thank you. My responsibility will be to represent publishers’ interests with national policymakers, international organizations and wherever it is needed. My responsibilities will also include to lead and coordinate the work of our Executive Committee, consisting of 18 highly experienced and knowledgeable publishers from across the globe, as well as that of IPA’s extremely able and committed team in Geneva. I also have the fortune of counting on the support of a very engaged and talented Vice-President, Sheika Bodour Al Qasimi.

BAQ: Thank you. I have been involved in the International Publishers Association (IPA) for over a decade in various roles, serving as a member of the Executive, Freedom to Publish, Literacy and Book Industry Policy, and Membership Committees and the Educational Publishers Forum. I will work with Hugo, to ensure the Association represents members’ interests through oversight of the Secretariat, committees, and the Association’s finances.

A key responsibility, I will also take on, is chairing the Programming Committee for the International Publishers Congress in May 2020 in Lillehammer, Norway.

AABP: With your experience and expertise, what are your main areas of focus in line with the IPA commandments?

HS: I have been working in publishing for 30 years, serving my publishers association and IPA in different capacities. My focus has always related to copyright and freedom to publish, IPA’s two main pillars. These issues will continue to be my core focus during my presidency.

BAQ: Hugo identifies the key issues. IPA must continue to support our members around the world to combat increasing crackdowns on publishers bringing controversial manuscripts to market and help our members advocate for development, protection, management, and enforcement of copyright.

Literacy and reading are also foundations of our industry, and the IPA is serving as a catalyst to bring the private sector, nonprofits, and other stakeholders together to help our members promote literacy, reading, and access to books.

In addition to working on IPA’s pillars, we need to ensure the services IPA offers its members continue to be aligned with evolving member needs and that our advocacy efforts are focused on the most pressing issues in the global publishing industry.

AABP: Please tell us about IPA’s relationship with India?

HS: The Federation of Indian Publishers (FIP) is a longstanding member of IPA, organising two very successful IPA Congresses in 1992 and 2018. Asoke Ghosh has been one of IPA’s longest serving members, representing the FIP, and just retired from the Executive Committee this Fall. I wish my friend Asoke all the best with his future endeavors and look forward to the ongoing collaboration with the FIP, its newly elected president, Ramesh Mittal, and his board members.

Bodour Al Qasimi,Vice President, International Publishers Association (IPA)
Bodour Al Qasimi,Vice President, International Publishers Association (IPA)

BAQ: Our relationship with India is strong and has evolved as its publishing market has grown significantly. The India Book Market Report released in 2015 valued the print book market at $3.9 Billion and estimated annual growth to hover around 20% for the next few years.

This growth, coupled with the expected increase in literacy levels to 90% by 2020, showcases the important role that India will increasingly play in the global publishing industry. We see significant collaboration opportunities to facilitate further growth in the Indian publishing market such as promoting and upholding the freedom to publish, addressing piracy and enhancing copyright awareness. With the size of India’s education system, there are also natural areas of collaboration around educational publishing, including promoting reading and enhancing access to books.

AABP: What are the top three challenges of the industry worldwide and how is IPA handling them?

HS: First is an orchestrated attack on copyright. Locally we have been successfully helping our members to counter harmful copyright legislation and internationally we are working with all relevant organizations, like WIPO, to ensure adequate protection of copyright.

Second is the increasing threat, all over the world, of censorship and self-censorship. The work of our Freedom to Publish Committee and our Prix Voltaire are crucial tools to help fellow endangered publishers all around the world.

BAQ: The third is literacy, a fundamental human right that is vital to the creation of informed societies, thriving economies, and the growth of the publishing industry. To address these challenges, we work through our memberdriven Committees and taskforces that feature worldrenowned policy experts with the aim of advancing industry policies and implementing programs that help publishers compete in an increasingly global industry undergoing digital transformation.

HS: And we can’t ignore other relevant issues like accessibility and diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry. We are part of and participate actively in the Accessible Books Consortium and I plan to ask Dr. Kolman to continue serving IPA as Presidential Envoy for Diversity and Inclusion.

AABP: What were the IPA’s major achievements this year?

HS & BAQ: There were so many major achievements last year. We hosted the 32nd International Publishers Congress in New Delhi, India which attracted delegates from more than 70 countries. For the first time ever, IPA hosted a Regional Seminar in Lagos, Nigeria which was the biggest publishing industry event ever held in Africa in the last several years.

The Freedom to Publish Committee hosted a record number of advocacy and knowledge sharing events at major book fairs in Germany, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Tunisia, UK, and the UAE, and intervened on behalf of persecuted publishers through lobbying efforts, awareness campaigns, and the Prix Voltaire award.

Our Copyright Committee played a key role in ensuring publisher voices were heard in public consultations on copyright laws in Canada, Colombia, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, and Japan.

The Literacy and Book Industry Policy Committee is in the process of reintroducing a range of programs to put literacy and access to books back on the industry agenda, such as IPA’s cooperation with the United Nations on the SDG Book Club.

The Educational Publishers Forum is developing a first of its kind initiative, the Value of Educational Publishing, which will enable members to engage in data-informed discussions with national governments on educational publishing policies.

AABP: What are your plans in the next 5 years?

HS: My responsibility is only for the next two years, at the end of which I expect to leave behind a stronger, united IPA, that will continue to successfully defend publishers’ interests across the globe. After that I plan to continue my work for my publishing house, Manual Moderno, which has been very supportive of my IPA engagement.

BAQ: Today, the IPA has more than 80 members from 69 countries. Through its members, the IPA represents thousands of individual publishers around the world which account for more than 90% of the global publishing market and serve around 75% of the world’s readers. Ideally, I would like to see many more countries establish publishers’ associations which join IPA so that our Association increases its representation of publishers and readers to nearly 100%. To do so, we will need to adapt our services to meet the needs of emergent publishing markets and figure out ways to work with a broader spectrum of publishing industry ecosystem players.

AABP: What are your views on challenges to freedom to publish, and how can publishers globally connect to solve these problems?

HS: Sadly, the freedom to publish continues to be threatened around the world. Just this last year, we have had to back two publishers in the United States of America who were under Presidential pressure to withdraw books from the market. A strong network of international publishers is essential. The best way for a publisher to connect and help is to join their National Publishers Association and try to make sure it is affiliated to IPA.

BAQ: As Hugo says, freedom to publish is not just a developing world problem, and there is not a single silver bullet to effectively engage countries and societies. And the nature of freedom to publish challenges is evolving. For example, at the IPA Regional Seminar in Nigeria and the IPA-sponsored freedom to publish panel at the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference, we heard that more traditional forms of government censorship are being supplanted by new forms of coercion, such as cybersecurity and defamation laws, that are prompting higher levels of selfcensorship by publishers.

AABP: What are your views on emerging markets and trends you foresee?

HS: Emerging markets are growing, and IPA is a true reflection of a globalized publishing industry. That we now have a Mexican and an Emirati Publisher as IPA President and Vice-President respectively reflects that. BAQ: Increasingly, global readers are calling for more diverse characters, stories, and original, distinctive writing.

At the same time, we are seeing emerging markets representing a significant, growing proportion of the global economy with their surging youthful populations. It is only a matter of time until these populations and economic trends change the face of the global publishing industry as we now know it. I think that will be good news for publishers but not before a profound rebalancing in the global publishing industry of tomorrow with emerging publishing markets becoming much more important to the global publishing industry. India and China are clear examples of this.

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