The socio-economic environment, historical approach and political context are only some of the factors to consider in appreciating, in all its complexity and diversity, the notion of an independent publisher. Independent publishers in Chile, France, Benin, Lebanon or India work in specific contexts that have direct consequences on their activities. However, and although the situation differs from one country to another, it is possible to agree on some criteria in order to define what is an independent publisher. Independent publishers develop their editorial policy freely, autonomously and without external interference. They are not the mouthpieces for a political party, religion, institution, communication group or company. The structure of publishing capital and shareholders’ identity also affect their independence : the takeover of publishing houses by big companies not linked to publishing and implementation of profit-driven policies often result in a loss of independence and shift in publishing orientation. Independent publishers, as defined by the Alliance’s publishers, are originating publishers : through their often-innovative publishing choices, freedom of speech, publishing and financial risktaking, they participate in discussions, distribution and development of their readers’ critical thinking. In this regard, they are key players in bibliodiversity.
These 80 recommendations are build on the principles upheld in the 2014 International Declaration of independent publishers, an important document promoting bibliodiversity, signed on September 20th, 2014 by more than 400 independent publishers from 45 countries.
They list the necessary prerequisites, divided in themes, for the development, maintenance and strengthening of bibliodiversity in concerned countries. Some recommendations are accompanied by tools and projects (existing or to be developed in the context of the 2015-2016 Alliance programme of activities), enabling a practical implementation of independent publishers’ proposals.
Contents of the 80 recommendations & tools in support of bibliodiversity :
* Public policies safeguarding bibliodiversity
* Proposals and activities supporting digital bibliodiversity
* The Amazon system, a threat to bibliodiversity ?
* Essential measures for publishing in local and national languages
* Rethinking book donations
* Proposals and activities to develop solidarity publishing partnerships
* Activities to strengthen a plural youth publishing
For all book actors to take ownership of these recommendations and tools, we invite you to contact us with your comments, suggestions, ideas and proposals that could enhance and strengthen this document.
1 | 2
Bibliodiversity is cultural diversity applied to the world of books. Echoing biodiversity, it refers to the critical diversity of products (books, scripts, eBooks, apps and oral literature) made available to readers. Bibliodiversity is a complex self-sustaining system of storytelling, writing, publishing and other kinds of production of oral and written literature. The writers and producers are comparable to the inhabitants of an ecosystem. Bibliodiversity contributes to a thriving life of culture and a healthy eco-social system. While large publishers do contribute something to publishing diversity, through the quantitative importance of their production, it is not enough to guarantee bibliodiversity, which is not only measured through the number of titles available.
Independent publishers, even if they consider their publishing houses’ economical balance, are above all concerned with the content of published products. Independent publishers’ books bring a different outlook and voice, as opposed to the more standardised publications offered by major groups. Independent publishers’ books and other products and their preferred diffusion channels (independent booksellers, among others) are therefore essential to preserve and strengthen plurality and the diffusion of ideas. The word bibliodiversity was invented by Chilean publishers, during the creation of the “Editores independientes de Chile” collective in the late 1990s. The International Alliance of independent publishers significantly contributed to the diffusion and promotion of this notion in several languages, including through the Dakar Declaration (2003), Guadalajara Declaration (2005), Paris Declaration (2007) and Cape Town Declaration (2014). Since 2010, the International Bibliodiversity Day is celebrated on 21 September.
The bibliodiversity, in pictures !
Far from being a caricature, developing a reasoning based on his personal conception of publishing, Gilles Colleu explores some of the characteristics of a typical independent publisher.
What do we mean by independent publisher ? Are they necessarily small concerns ? Can a major group be independent ? In a context of concentration and increasing dominance of financial considerations, how can publishers remain independent while playing their crucial role of putting fresh ideas forward ?
Gilles Colleu is a former student of Jean-Marie Bouvaist and has taught alongside him on the Master course at Villetaneuse University. He is now an associate professor in the publishing professions department of the IUT in Aix-en-Provence. He founded the Vents d’ailleurs publishing house and manages it with Jutta Hepke, and for the past 20 years has acted as a consultant to publishers.
In this work, he stresses his conviction that publishing needs to be rooted in a long operating cycle, to build up a catalogue that makes sense and business that is long-lasting.
NB : pages 94 to 97 of this work feature a full, fresh definition of independent publishing, suggested by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers.
Year of publication : 2006, 160 pages, 15 x 21 cm, ISBN 10 : 2-9519747-2-8 ; ISBN 13 : 978-2-9519747-2-2