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Publishing is on the cusp of a “new age”, Bodour al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), told delegates at the opening of the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference this week.  “I believe we are on the cusp of a new age in publishing in which our collective voices can come together to create a new dawn,” she said.

She believes that the coronavirus pandemic has provided “an opportunity to introduce fundamental changes to the way we think about our industry and its role and position on the global stage”.  The important lesson, she asserts, is for the industry “to stand together, and to improve collaboration, not just between publishers, but also across the entire publishing spectrum including printers, booksellers, libraries, teachers, technology companies, and everyone in-between”.

To this end, the IPA has worked with many partners to develop the International Sustainable Publishing and Industry Resilience Plan, known as the InSpire plan, recently launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  The IPA is also working with “world-leading capacity building institutions” such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation, New York University and the UK’s Oxford Brookes University to launch the IPA Academy.  This will offer online masterclasses in multiple languages to IPA members to help “bridge the skills gap and help our members adapt to rapidly changing readership and consumer behaviour trends”.

With characteristic generosity, she said it was time “to help our colleagues in markets which have been faced with greater challenges,” adding “it is only when we act together that we can become stronger on the world stage and ensure we are listened to by governments and all stakeholders”.

She concluded on a positive note looking ahead to life on the other side of the pandemic.  “We will recover and re-emerge ready to face the world stronger, more  focused, and most importantly, more united.”