It seems that with each passing day there is yet another climate change crisis dominating our news headlines. The world’s scientists have declared that we are fast approaching global tipping points where we can still try and minimize the devastating effects of climate change. Yet, time is running out. With a shrinking window of opportunity left to take action, each meeting where world leaders convene is a moment where we can increase our climate commitments and actions.
On 16 June during Bologna Children's Book Fair, Aldus Up, the European book fairs network co-founded in the framework of the Creative Europe programme and coordinated by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) published two studies on existing surveys on translations and reading habits in Europe (the full report is published here).
We may indeed regard the Berne Convention as one of the great charters of literary liberty; it has directly and powerfully influenced all legislation touching copyright matters which has been achieved since it came into force.
John Murray, IPA President, 1899
The SDG Book Club was an idea formed through a unique collaboration between the IPA and the United Nations and involved the full spectrum of the book chain. The idea was simple; to use books as tool to encourage children aged between 6-12 to understand sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Originally launched in the six official UN languages, the idea was quickly adopted for local markets with the first SDG library established in Norway in 2020. One year on, we invited Kristin Ørjasæter, Managing Director of the Norwegian Institute for Children Books to reflect on the success, to hear about their future plans and advise for others hoping to establish their own SDG library.
Can publishers help build the creative industries in Europe?
As we reach the mid-point in 2021, in Europe we are starting to see the first glimpses of a return to normal life. While there is cautious optimism, we are also starting to see the figures and statistics of the impact of COVID on the European creative and cultural industries. In a report published by EY (and supported by the Federation of European Publishers) earlier this year, we are seeing an interesting picture of the role the book industry plays within the economy and the resilience our industry to cope with these unexpected events such as the pandemic. Whilst Europe is unique in many ways, the lessons emerging form the pandemic have wider applications in other markets.
Some interesting aspects of the EY report include:
What did the study tell us about the book industry?
After two years of being the Executive committee member at the International Publishers Association, I was thrilled to accept the invitation of the chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, Michiel Kolman, to lead the committee’s literacy taskforce.
As Chair of the IPA's Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to Peter Dowling, the Immediate Past President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand about their efforts to make their industry more inclusive.
Michiel Kolman (MK): There are two main drivers to address D&I: it is the right thing to do and there is a compelling business case. Which one is more important in NZ?
Peter Dowling (PD): The two are really intertwined. PANZ wants to do the right thing and in particular to adhere to the Treaty of Waitangi/Tiriti o Waitangi. There are a diverse range of books in New Zealand but the publishing workforce doesn’t reflect the make-up of society. So to continue publishing books that reach and reflect all readers, we need to break down any barriers to entry for people of diverse backgrounds.
MK: D&I rose to the PANZ agenda in 2020: what triggered that?
(PD): Diversity & inclusion have been on the agenda for some years now. PANZ Council has previously focused on reflecting our bicultural nationhood and respect for Māori. We’ve also observed the good work being led by the UK Publishers Association and others.
For the last four years, as Vice-President and then President of the International Publishers Association, I promoted accessible publishing around the world, talking with key stakeholders of the book industry and addressing multiple audiences about the commitment of the IPA to this important matter. My main goal was to explain what accessible publishing is and what it means, to communicate its significance, and to convince publishers to go accessible by signing the Charter for Accessible Publishing of the Accessible Books Consortium. Being actively involved with the issue has made me passionate about it, and I am thrilled to be able to continue working to increase the number of accessible publications. I would like to thank the Chair of IPA’s Inclusive Publishing and Literacy Committee, past president Michiel Kolman, for his invitation to coordinate our efforts in favour of accessibility.
I have come to believe that accessible publishing is something all publishers should and must embrace.
Publishers should embrace accessible publishing because of its moral significance. Books bring us joy, inspiration, and knowledge, and they make us think, imagine, and create. Books are magical, but sadly over 285 million Visually Impaired People (VIPs) worldwide1 have access to less than 10% of published works2. Imagine never having the opportunity to read everything that shaped you to be the person you are now. As publishers we have the moral obligation of allowing everybody to enter this magical world of books, including any person with a visual impairment.
I know many publishers may not see this as a priority. The threats to the core of our business, especially copyright infringement and threats to the freedom to publish, can already be overwhelming enough to worry about something for purely moral reasons. But that is the thing. Accessible publishing is not about charity. It is about doing the right thing, also in terms of our business models. This is why I also say we must embrace it. Accessible publishing is inherent to modern publishing, and I will show it through four compelling reasons.
In 2017 the UK Publishers Association launched its Inclusivity Action Plan which was ambitious, comprehensive and not matched by any PA around the world. The UK PA is to be saluted for being a trailblazer in our industry on Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). I was happy to interview the UK PA’s CEO Stephen Lotinga on their D&I plan and its outcomes in 2019.
Two years ago Hugo Setzer asked me to become the IPA’s Presidential Envoy for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) in our industry. As the term of President Setzer is over my D&I envoy appointment also comes to an end but my work on this topic at IPA is not done. Time for a reflection on the last two years before I look at the future.
So, what has been achieved on the D&I front? First the IPA leadership itself. We certainly saw diversity there! The coming two years the IPA will be under the leadership of President Bodour Al Qasimi, finally a female president again, (too) many years after Ana Maria Cabanellas’ presidency, and the first president from the Middle East. Our new Vice President will be Karine Pansa, so strong female leadership at the top, and certainly ticking the gender diversity box. YS Chi was not long ago the first Asian IPA president and I, as far as I know, the first out president from the LGBTQ community. The IPA leadership diversity was explored well in the D&I panel for Publishers Without Borders with President Bodour Al Qasimi.
Diversity comes with many different lenses: gender, race & ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age, etc. Many of these lenses on diversity are well covered in the key surveys that track progress (or lack thereof) in diversity in our industry. The leading surveys in our industry are from the UK and the US and show progress on gender, with gender equality at the executive and senior level, but much more to do around race and ethnicity: in the Global North the publishing staff is very ‘white’, much more so than one would expect from the racially mixed cities where most leading publishers are located. Gender in publishing has been supported enthusiastically by Bodour’s PublisHER movement.
Triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement, race and racism was high on the agenda at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair’s Diversity Panel, and also at the Beyond the Book Cast on Race and Ethnicity in Academic Publishing with a deep dive on Elsevier. A message of hope where all positive change starts with a meaningful dialogue and therefore lots of emphasis on courageous conversations around race and racism.
We have seen significant progress on LGBTQ rights around the world and that is also reflected on the sexuality lens on diversity. In the above mentioned publishing industry surveys we see that the LGBTQ community is well represented in publishing with many active Pride employee groups across the globe.
“The big challenges of the twenty-first century will be global in nature. […] The whole of humankind now constitutes a single civilization, with all people sharing common challenges and opportunities.”
Yuval Noah Harari, in his book “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”.
The hybrid 40th SCCR maintained the traditional schedule of a normal meeting and so reserved the last session for a quick review of the subjects which are vying for a position on the formal SCCR policy agenda: a miscellany it gathers together as ‘Other Matters’.
Those subjects are
The proposal for a study on public lending right was on this list for the first time following the request by the delegation of Sierra Leone at SCCR 39 (and since supported by Panama and Malawi).
The update presentations and reactions from delegates and observers was efficient and eerie, both. In full measure.
And with that, Mr Abdoul Aziz Dieng of Sénégal, thanked all of the participants, the Chair’s summary was read out, and the meeting closed.
Day 3 of the hybrid SCCR 40 saw the Exceptions and Limitations discussions take centre stage. Given the decision of Member States to limit interactions at this meeting to stock-taking, the main focus was on the 130-page report issued by WIPO following the three Regional Seminars held in 2019 in Singapore, Nairobi and Santo Domingo and the subsequent international conference held in Geneva last October. The IPA participated in all these events, gathering together local publishers and coordinating closely with representatives of other stakeholders, including authors and CMOs.
This first meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) of 2020 is an almost 100% virtual affair, save for a handful of people in the plenary chamber in Geneva, with a dramatically reduced programme of a couple of hours per day, and with a promise of no normative (or law-making) discussions on any of the agenda items.
As a bonus to our series of posts for Global Goals week, we thought we would concentrate on a specific goal, namely SDG 5: Gender Equality.