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The International Publishers Association has posted a powerful and inspirational video to mark its 125th anniversary.  Against images of the Nazi Holocaust, the conflict in the Balkans, LBGTQ marches, protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong, and the Black Lives Matter movement, we hear statements from past and present IPA presidents as they talk about the freedoms and rights that the IPA was established to protect.

The video begins with IPA Secretary General José Borghino talking about the importance of storytelling to humanity, and its unique desire to “encrypt and preserve something which has just happened”.

The UK’s Richard Charkin (2015-2016) talks about how the horror of the Second World War “impacted on me the importance of international cooperation – anything to prevent the ghastliness of war”.  Herman Spruijt (2008-2010) recalls meetings being stopped in Istanbul so that publishers and members of the industry could protest outside the court against the imprisonment of a publisher.  Michiel Kolman (2017-2018) says that some publishers, in defending the freedom to publish, have paid “the ultimate price, with their lives”.

YS Chi (2010-2014) notes the importance of the Marrakesh Treaty of 2013, “a pivotal moment” which increased the access of printed material to people with visual impairment.

Pere Vincens (2000-2004) recalls the devastation of the Balkan conflict and how the following message was given in the newspapers.  ‘Please, people of the world, don’t send us bombs, send us books.’  He believes that “the IPA is about values, about the dignity of ideas”.

Hugo Setzer (2019-2020) notes how scientific and medical publishers made their work available for free “to tackle the pandemic” and that it was the protection of copyright that enabled this to happen.

In conclusion, the IPA’s current president, Sheikha Bodour al Qasimi, founder and chief executive of Kalimat publishers in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates,  says: “If we focus on the best interests of our members, then our industry does well, and if our industry does well then our societies do well – because our organisation is international and this is one of our key strengths.  The world is changing so fast and when we focus on diversity then we ensure that we have multiple perspectives, different opinions that allow us to truly represent and understand our readers, and that will be help us stay relevant and sustainable.”

The video can be seen here: