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Continuing her in-person assessments of pandemic-hit publishing markets worldwide, Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), was in Rome to meet with members of the Italian Publishers Association

While there, she learned more about their challenges and offered an overview of the IPA initiatives designed to empower global industry stakeholders, putting them on a planned and collaborative path to post-COVID recovery.

Bodour’s visit began with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Piu libri piu liberi Book Fair (National Fair of Small and Medium Publishing) led by the Italian Minister of Cultural Affairs, Dario Franceschini, followed by a tour of the book fair, which runs from December 4 – 8 in Rome. It is the first Italian fair dedicated exclusively to independent publishing and approximately 500 publishers from all over Italy convene there each year to share news of their latest catalogues with the public.

In her meeting with the Italian publishers, she took the opportunity to hear from them about the on-ground challenges the pandemic has presented, and to learn about their plans for the future. Bodour commended the Italian publishing community for their united efforts, which boosted sales of trade titles this year by almost 16.3% compared to 2020.

She noted that challenges remain despite these positive signs, and asserted that collaborative action will be key to rebuilding publishing businesses and the industry as a whole. She called on the meeting’s attendees to build resilience by working together adding that this was the inspiration behind the IPA’s recently launched International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience (InSPIRe) Plan.

This plan has been joined by the Federation of the European Publishers along with 50 other organisations. Bodour said that she looks forward to more Italian publishers and industry stakeholders endorsing the Inspire Plan.

Strategies like this are crucial in taking a solidarity driven approach to addressing common sectoral challenges such as the recent supply chain crisis and the emergence of the new COVID variant, Omicron, she added.

The IPA President’s trip to Italy follows visits to other publishing capitals including Greece, the UAE, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Georgia earlier this year. During these visits she has been assessing the challenges of pandemic-hit publishing markets and sharing the IPA’s plans to help bring global publishing back to full strength.

On the side-lines of her meetings, Bodour Al Qasimi also took the opportunity to tour the historic Biblioteca Angelica – a public library in Rome established in 1604, which boasts a collection of 200,000 works in Italian literature, theatre and literary criticism and other priceless works.