Fair publishing partnerships


Call to French-language authors, publishers and institutions, March 2007

Publishing countries : Ivory Coast

African literature in French is today better represented and better known in Europe than in Africa, where its distribution remains hampered by many obstacles. However, there are solutions, which require the mobilisation of various stakeholders in the book industry. One solution is co-publishing, based on a joint trade agreement. The publication of “L’Ombre d’Imana” by Véronique TADJO, a groundbreaking example of pan-African co-publishing, proves that it is possible, through joint action, to create the conditions necessary for a (re)appropriation by Africa of its literature. To make this possible, the Alliance is appealing to everyone, authors, publishers and institutions alike, to join forces and promote the bibliodiversity at the heart of the francophone spirit. This appeal is endorsed by many authors and book industry professionals.

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The “Fair Trade Book”

The label the “Fair Trade Book” is attributed by the International Alliance of independent publishers to works published in the context of international publishing agreements which respect each other particularities: solidarity co publishing. These solidarity copublishings enable the sharing of costs linked to intellectual and physical production of books and therefore implies an economy of scale; an exchange of professional know-how and a common experience, while respecting the publishers’ cultural context and identity; distributing works on a broader scale by adjusting prices for each geographic zone. The label the “Fair Trade Book” is a symbol of this solidarity amongst publishers – solidarity which also indirectly mobilises readers: because a book is sold 20 Euros in France it can be bought at half this price in West Africa, for instance.

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Guidelines for Fair Publishing Partnerships

Over the past few years, the predation of large companies from the North on the book trade in Africa has undergone some partnership-related changes. An evolution of practices is observable amongst the large publishing companies from the North, who do not solely rely on local publishing houses’ acquisitions, but also on establishing partnerships with local publishers. How can we guarantee that these partnerships are balances and fair? How can we ensure that publishers from the South do not “sell their souls” through collaborations with large companies from the North? To complement these changes, the Alliance has drafted a little handbook of common-sense for its members, which serves as a reminder on essential checkpoints to look out for.

Should you have comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The Alliance thanks Double ponctuation for writing the vademecum.

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