Incoming Publishers Association president Lis Tribe, m.d. of Hodder Education, set out her priorities in the role for the coming year at the body's annual general meeting, held in central London yesterday (Thursday 27th April).
It was also revealed at the a.g.m. that HarperCollins c.e.o. Charlie Redmayne has been elected vice-president of the PA, in which role he will serve for a year before taking over the presidency from Tribe in 2018. The presidency of the publishing body rotates between trade, education and academic publishers, to reflect the make-up of the industry.
Also announced was that Little, Brown c.e.o. David Shelley has taken on the role of chair of the PA's Consumer Publishers Council, formerly known as the Trade Publishers Council.
Open trade, a strong IP framework and VAT-free e-books are some of the priorities the Publishers Association will be lobbying for in the coming year, Tribe said, as she took over the PA president role from SAGE's Stephen Barr.
With June's general election fast approaching, Brexit is high on the PA's list of priorities. Tribe emphasised it will be pushing for negotiations that ensure the publishing industry has best access to the single market and free trade agreements in order to trade around the world.
The PA will also be campaigning to maintain a strong IP framework - rallying the trade, she said it must "get better at winning hearts and minds" when talking about the value of copyright - ans well as for the removal of tax from e-books, which she called "a tax on knowledge". "It shouldn't be there and it's time for it to go," Tribe affirmed.
Tribe said her year as president would place an emphasis on education, including continuing the PA's campaign "the textbook challenge" asking schools to maintain spending on textbooks.
Further, work in respect to inclusivity will continue, and uncertainty as to the status of EU workers will be tackled, she promised. The PA will be "fighting to get an answer as quickly as possible" regarding EU workers' status, Tribe said, acknowledging that the uncertainty was "one of the worst things" about the situation.
The industry's growth and stability, as revealed by the PA's yearbook statistics, gives it a great platform for the strong message it wants to put across when lobbying government, she said.
The publishing industry in 2016 saw significant growth, according to the PA's Publishing Yearbook, seeing sales up 7% on the previous year to £4.8bn overall - the highest recorded in a decade. Physical sales were up 8% to £3bn in the last year, the highest level seen since 2012. Overall digital sales were up 6% to £1.7bn, despite a continuation of the drop in e-book sales down 3%.
Outgoing president Barr said publishers needed to get better at communicating its successes. Striking an optimistic note, he also said the trade has a positive future in both print and digital, adding, "I think we should feel confident about future despite many challenges Brexit will bring to UK economy."
Meanwhile PA chief executive Stephen Lotinga took the opportunity to congratulate the PA on its "good year", as well as the trade's, seeing VAT removed from colouring books, developing the industry's first apprenticeship standards, and taking a lead on inclusivity through its conferences. But looking ahead, he said there was "much more we can do", "especially at a time of Brexit".
The a.g.m. was rounded off by a candid commentary on the internal workings of Westminster in an address from Tim Shipman, political editor at the Sunday Times. He said: "We all just want to fast forward to 8th June because the only question is how big the majority is."