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Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association (IPA) emphasised the importance of cooperation and interdependency during the Covid-19 pandemic in her address to the Beijing International Book Fair which closed on 18 September.

“After one-and-a-half years of living with this pandemic, we are left with a new perspective,” she told delegates. “We all understand clearly now that together we are stronger. As an industry, we have grown increasingly more interdependent. And for us at the IPA, which represents 86 organizations from 71 countries, we believe the more publishers we represent, the more beneficial and effective it is for all our members.”

She continued: “Clearly strengthening our international communication for stronger cooperation is at the heart of what we do in the IPA. And it’ll be the fuel of our future growth and development.

“International cooperation has indeed emerged as vital to our existence since Covid started. There has been a renewed sense of solidarity between publishers who have put their differences aside by deciding to work closely with the entire publishing value chain in order to find solutions to the challenges caused by the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, I had many conversations with national associations and individual publishers in many parts of the world. Every conversation confirmed to me that there is a willingness by publishers and national associations to work collectively along with their local and international colleagues.”

She went on to praise the BIBF for its use of smart technologies for rights deals and international networking, saying this was “just one example of the creativity displayed by many national associations and book fair organizers. It reflects a desire to maintain business continuity despite the odds, as well as a desire to support more international partnerships. Many book fairs have been implementing innovative ideas to maintain continuity of business and to support ongoing conversations. I’m amazed by the creativity and the resilience of publishers worldwide.”

The fair saw more than 2,200 publishers take part, with 1,600 physical exhibitors.  Deals concluded at the fair included a strategic partnership between the UK’s Hachette Children’s Group and China’s CITIC Publishing Group for a range of popular science books for children aged 5-12 in China.

BIBF director Ms Liying Lin said: “It has been a delight to see friends and colleagues gathered in BIBF halls once again. We have also been able to connect virtually via SMART! BIBF with a larger international audience both in conferences and in the exhibition halls. The Chinese publishing industry is dynamic and ambitious and there were so many international partnerships announced this week. We will continue to provide events and support to the publishing industry throughout the year.”