The International Publishers Association and the UK's Publishers Association have both urged the book trade to pull together to overcome the economic impact the disruption of the coronavirus will bring, while keeping in regular contact with government to ensure the sector is supported.
The IPA congratulated publishers around the world for their "quick and innovative" reactions to the pandemic and praised the actions of government "to control the spread of the virus and support cultural industries". In particular it highlighted the efforts of educational and academic publishers to, respectively, support teachers, parents and pupils suddenly confronted with homeworking and make resources related to Covid-19 available for free.
Meanwhile it said many trade publishers have contributed by making e-books available for free or at reduced prices and by lifting licensing restrictions on posting public readings online, among other initiatives. Publishers around the world have supported government messaging with social media campaigns for citizens to stay at home, it said further in praise.
"These acts of social solidarity are happening against a backdrop of severe disruption with many countries requiring bookstores to close, while book fairs have been cancelled, book releases delayed, and distribution suspended," the IPA said. "The impact on the workforce that drives the publishing industry cannot be understated, as will undoubtedly be the case for other sectors. The livelihoods of many authors, booksellers, publishers and all the freelancers that support them are at risk. We will need to stand together to come through this and IPA is in touch with its international partners to see how we can be of most support at this time and in the future."
The crisis "underlines why publishing is so important," the IPA continued, noting the industry's usefulness as the source of the educational resources teachers and pupils rely on in the classroom; publishing as one of the forms of entertainment that people are turning to while in isolation to escape and understand what is happening; and in the form of published academic research, which is helping governments and researchers to find ways to manage and treat the crisis.
Hugo Setzer, IPA president, said: "self-isolation around the world has seen a boom in reading. Books and reading are the ideal way of escaping our four walls but also to understand what is happening around us, how to overcome this and how to make our lives better in the future. We will need books and we will need each other. The International Publishers Association will play its role to support our international colleagues, our authors and readers, our researchers, our teachers and pupils, to overcome this crisis."
In particular from governments the IPA is currently asking publishing to be considered "in any economic stimulus packages and support mechanisms put in place", and it noted the Federation of European Publishers’ call on the European Institutions and Member States "can only echo those calls to governments around the world".
The Publishers Association meanwhile provided an update it is in daily contact with the UK government "to make the industry’s voice heard and feed into policy decisions". It said, having surveyed its members, it was clear "many are obviously concerned about the potential financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their businesses".
"We are conscious that it’s not just publishers that may struggle, but it is also a very worrying time for bookshops and authors," a spokesperson for the PA said. "We are committed to working for and with all those in the book trade to pull together to ensure that the sector can weather this storm."
The PA added it was endeavouring the keep its members informed and it congratulated them on their contribution at "this difficult time".
"These are incredibly challenging times and the situation is fast paced, so one of our main priorities is keeping our members up to date with all the relevant information as soon as it’s available and translating its relevance for their businesses," the spokesperson said.
"Despite the challenges they are experiencing, publishers are making an incredible contribution to society at this difficult time by making resources freely available, publishing relevant research quickly and supporting booksellers."
- Turkish Publishers Association calls for 'solidarity' during financial crisis
- IPA calls for immediate release of arrested Bangladeshi publisher
- IPA’s Kolman: role for publishers in ‘post-truth’ world
- IPA’s Kolman talks copyright and freedom to publish in China's Chengdu
- IPA calls on China to overturn 'assault' on academic freedom