Home 5 News 5 Industry Titans Unite to Defend Expression at Book Fairs

Industry Titans Unite to Defend Expression at Book Fairs

by | Mar 21, 2024 | News

A joint statement on the “essential and interconnected nature of the freedom of expression and the freedoms to read, and publish” has been drawn up by five international book industry bodies and will be presented at book fairs throughout this year.

The international organisations launching this statement are:

  • International Authors Forum
  • PEN International
  • International Publishers Association
  • European and International Booksellers Federation
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

It reads: “With the core purpose of providing access to a wide variety of written works for all, we have come together to support the freedoms to express, publish and read. It is our belief that society needs enlightened citizens who, based on accurate knowledge and information, make choices and participate in democratic progress. Authors, publishers, booksellers and libraries have a role to play in this which should be recognized, valued, and enabled.

“True freedom to read means being able to choose from the broadest range of books sharing the widest range of ideas. Unrestrained communication is essential to a free society and a creative culture but carries with it the responsibility to resist hate speech, deliberate falsehoods and distortion of facts. Authors, publishers, booksellers and libraries make an essential contribution to guaranteeing this freedom.”

The statement concludes:  “The risk of self-censorship due to social, political or economic pressures remains high, affecting every part of the chain from writer to reader. Society must create the environment for authors, publishers, booksellers and librarians to fulfil their missions freely.

“We therefore call on governments and all other stakeholders to help protect, uphold and promote the three above freedoms – of expression, and to publish and read – in law and in practice.”

The current climate of book bans and restrictions made the bodies feel the time was right.  On 25 June 2023, American Booksellers Association, American Library Association, Association of American Publishers and Authors Guild issued a statement whereby they all joined in a re-publishing of a joint statement from 1953 on the Freedom to Read as part of work to resist a wave of book bans in different parts of the USA, originally written by the Association of American Publishers and the American Libraries Association.

Commenting on the statement Karine Pansa, President of the IPA said: “It is so important that our book sector stands together. Publishers need authors who feel they can write freely and we need booksellers and libraries who can stand up for the books we publish and help them find readers.”

Romana Cacchioli, PEN International Executive Director, said: “PEN International reaffirms its commitment to freedom of expression, publishing, and reading. In societies where these liberties thrive, diverse voices can freely contribute to public discourse, fostering informed debate, critical thinking, and civic engagement. Let us stand united in preserving these essential liberties, for they are the lifeblood of our democracies.”

Individual authors, publishers, booksellers and librarians are encouraged to sign the statement which will be presented at a number of international book sector events throughout the year. The first event will take place at London Book Fair on Thursday 14th March. 

 

 

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