The “Conference”, a snapshot of independent publishing worldwide
Since the creation of the International Alliance of independent publishers (an international network of 750 independent publishers from 55 countries around the world) in 2002, the “International Assemblies/ Conferences” have been held every four to eight years and bring together some 100 independent publishers from around the world: in 2003 in Dakar (Senegal); in 2007 in Paris (France); in 2014 in Cape Town (South Africa) and in 2021 in Pamplona-Iruña (Province of Navarre/ Spain).
They represent a landmark moment for international independent publishers, bringing together actors from all continents – they collectively provide a portrait of global independent publishing (Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Arab world and Oceania). They are a unique space for debate, meetings, and reflection on independent publishing – with no other equivalent worldwide.
Celebrate and REthink in 2021...
Between 2017 and 2018, when the Alliance network was planning and launching the 2019-2021 conference, the goals of this event were obvious: celebrating bibliodiversity and the work of independent publishers, REthinking the solidarity practices that we build through perseverance and determination, but also the relationships with other book professionals, and the relationships with readers.
This is obvious in view of the progress made since the last meeting in 2012-2014, but also in view of the experience of the Alliance, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021.
2020, a global health crisis, a year of transformation
While the consequences of the health crisis are still difficult to assess in detail from an economic, social, and political vantage point, REthinking remains obvious but also becomes a necessity.
Why are independent publishers important actors in this period of crisis? How do they accompany societal transformations and transitions at work? What are the tools and practices that they put in place to apprehend the realities of tomorrow, to understand them? In what ways do books and the ideas they convey help defend and preserve the diversity of creations, points of view, ideas?
“Tomorrow’s” independent publishing?
This Conference is thus a moment of documentation on the state of the world, an international mapping of the movements of transition and/or interruption.
Its objective is to question and inform discussions on the role of books – of ideas – as a social and emancipatory trajectory.
It is a space for reflection, sharing of experiences and practical know-hows concerning the issues of today and tomorrow: ecology, social economy, inclusive publishing, cultural platforming...
Finally, the Conference is a space of solidarity, trust, human relationships, and dialogues between cultures.
Process and phases of the Conference
The Conference of the Alliance is built of our own accord over a long period of time, against the often-frantic rhythm that has become the norm. It follows a common thread that has been running for 20 years within the Alliance: the issues defended by the Alliance since its creation are always prominent (solidarity, equity of relations, rebalancing of flows, circulation of ideas, local creations and productions, fair speech, ecological concerns...). These are the foundations on which the independent publishing movement is based and are addressed considering contemporary issues and debates.
They are built collectively, based on the work carried out since the 2021-2014 conference and the 80 ensuing recommendations, from feedback from professionals in the field of books, from monitoring independent publishing throughout the world, from regular dialogue with other cultural actors, but also from observation of practices, trends, and alternatives that emerge here and there.
The Conference is built on two levels (public and “internal”), which feed each other and are complementary.
• A public level with an aim to meet, discuss, learn – which is embodied by meetings open to all (book professionals, readers, cultural actors, academics, civil society movements, etc.). It is about taking advantage of the space that the Alliance is to REthink practices, question the relationship of independent publishers to the current world, explore themes, allow each other utopias, look together to the future.
• An internal level (focused on the Alliance network) to formulate recommendations and tools, to elaborate objectives for the upcoming period, to define and refine the governance of the network.
The conference is structured around working groups and thematic workshops set up since the 2012-2014 Conference of the Alliance (1/on public book policies; 2/on the freedom of publishing; 3/ on digital publishing; 4/on publishing in local and national languages; 5/on solidarity-based editorial partnerships; 6/on the impacts of book donation practices).
Concretely, for the Alliance network, the aim is to achieve the following results for the period 2022-2025:
• Recommendations (based on the 80 recommendations from the previous Conference but also in the context of the current crisis)
• Objectives and action plan for the period 2022-2025
• Adjustments and validation/ endorsement of the governance of the association