Publishing « in developing countries »

Reports on the publishing world

Publishing in Africa : Where Are We Now ? An Update for 2019, by Hans M Zell

Read here the pre-print version uploaded on 21 May 2019

Final version, to be published in two parts, in Logos : Journal of the World Publishing Community (

Part I : Volume 30 (2019) : Issue 3, Part II : Volume 30 (2019) : Issue 4

Reprinted with permission of the author.
Copyright © Hans Zell Publishing Consultants 2019

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Les éditeurs d’Afrique francophone sur l’échiquier du « glocal » (1980-2019), by Raphaël Thierry

Abstract :

In terms of languages, markets and labels, African publishing represents a field of constant discourse. It also continually questions not just the way we look at books, but also our relationship with them and with the international publishing industry. The time has long passed when the leading discourse on publishing in Africa was devoted primarily to a “book famine” related to the African economic crisis of the 1980s. Over the past three decades, the African book market has done nothing but grow on the continent, diversifying its increasingly dense and transnational production through the circulation of books and of publishing information. Nonetheless, quite often African publishing is presented in terms of the difficulties faced by its stakeholders, rather than those stakeholders’ agency, their capacity to develop their markets. Indeed, history has shown that the African publishing industry is a mirror of the globalisation of publishing and of its economic flux. That being the case, the economic challenges that one can observe in the African industry is thus a reflection of the imbalances, alternatives – also margins – of a world of books that is increasingly concentrated. In this sense, African publishing invites a two-fold interrogation : in Africa it must advocate a cultural and economic legitimacy within evolving socio-political situations and an outward-looking educational market. Internationally, it must position itself in terms of non-African publishing of literature and non-fiction that makes up the majority of African intellectual production in the world. By examining the discourse around African books, African publishers’ discourse, and the evolution of African books in French since the 1980’s, this article aims to question the relationship between the book industry in Africa and the globalisation of books phenomenon in order to bring to light a network of exchanges, tensions, and influences that turns the African book market into a veritable “glocal” space.

Read the article here (in French).

Thierry, R. (2019). Les éditeurs d’Afrique francophone sur l’échiquier du « glocal »
(1980-2019). Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture, 10 (2).

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Publishing & the Book in Africa : A Literature Review for 2018, by Hans M. Zell

Publishing & the Book in Africa : A Literature Review for 2018
The fourth in a series of annual reviews of select new literature in English that has appeared on the topic of publishing and the book sector in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read the pre-print version here.

To be published in The African Book Publishing Record, Volume 44, Issue 2, (May 2019)

Reprinted with permission of the author.
Copyright © Hans Zell Publishing Consultants 2019

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African Book Industry Data & the State of African National Bibliographies, by Hans M. Zell

African Book Industry Data & the State of African National Bibliographies :
Read the Pre-print version here.

Published in The African Book Publishing Record, Volume 44, Issue 4 (Dec 2018) : 363-389.

Reprinted with permission of the author.
Copyright © Hans Zell Publishing Consultants 2018

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Publishers & Books, African Observatory of professional publishers (OAPE)

Publishers & Books, a monthly specialized magazine, produced and published by the African Observatory of Professional Publishers (OAPE). Articles are in French and/or in English.

See here the first issue (June 2018) ;

And below the second issue (July 2018) and the third issue (August 2018).

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African Book Industry, report of USAID-Global Book Alliance and ADEA, Abidjan (Ivory Coast), January 2018

Read here the report of the workshop on « African Book Industry », organized by the Global Book Alliance (USAID) and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) in Abidjan (Ivory Coast) in January 2018.
The workshop brought together 79 key stakeholders in the African Book Publishing Industry from 22 African countries.
More information here.

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Digital printing of books in West and Central Africa and Madagascar

Feasibility study on the establishment of digital printing structures for independent publishers, by Gilles Colleu (November 2017)

Among the 80 recommendations of the International Assembly of independent publishers (2012-2014), independent publishers called on public authorities and international organisations to “contribute and support the establishment of in-country digital printers and printing facilities, on demand (including in sub-Saharan African) to promote access to books”.

The Alliance thus launched a feasibility study in 2016, on the establishment of digital printing facilities in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Above all, the aim was to find out whether digital printing is a relevant alternative, and on what conditions. To do so, the study surveys the needs of local professionals, and discusses the potentials and benefits as well as limitations inherent to digital printing, based on realities and practices of Francophone publishers from sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Finally, it discusses the feasibility scenarios for the establishment of a digital printing hub.

By focusing on the technical aspect of digital printing as well as on the development potential in a Francophone African context, this study goes beyond a feasibility study and proposes reflection points on the economic and strategic models of independent publishing.

This study was supported by the International Organisation of Francophonie. A full version of the study is available to members of the Alliance.
For questions or comments, please contact the team of the Alliance.

Gilles COLLEU, author of the study
Former lecturer at the University Institute of Technology « Book Trade » in Aix-en-Provence, former Director of production and digital publishing for Actes Sud, Gilles Colleu established and manages, with Jutta Hepke, Vents d’ailleurs (La Roque d’Anthéron, France), member of the International Alliance of independent publishers. He co manages the digital printing hub Yenooa and incubator Rue des éditeurs and actively participates in the Digital Lab of the Alliance (tutorials, training).

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Publishing in Persian Language, a groundbreaking study on publishing in the Persian language

Publishing in Persian language presents a comprehensive and current overview of publishing in Persian language, in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, but also in the diaspora in Europe and the United States.
Articles, penned by Ali Amiri, Beytolah Biniaz, Masoud Hosseinipour, Farid Moradi, Laetitia Nanquette and Dilshad Rakhimov, enable an understanding of editorial markets through historical, economic, political and cultural perspectives.
This study sheds light on the work and publishing list of several independent publishers in Persian language, and thus enabling professional and intercultural exchanges.
Publishing in Persian language is available in Persian and English, and openly accessible on the Website of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, in PDF, ePub and MOBI formats.

Summary of the study :
• Introduction, Beytolah Biniaz
• History of publishing in Iran, Farid Moradi
• Panorama of independent publishing in Iran, Farid Moradi
• Structure of the book market in Iran, Farid Moradi
• Cultural exchanges and translations between Iran and France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, Laetitia Nanquette
• Persian language publishers in Europe, Farid Moradi
• Publishing in Afghanistan, Ali Amiri
• Panorama of publishing in Tajikistan, Dilshad Rakhimov
• Publishing in Persian language in Uzbekistan, Farid Moradi and Masoud Hosseinipour

Publishing in Persian language, “État des lieux de l’édition” collection (Reports on the publishing world), International Alliance of independent publishers, 2015.
ISBN : 978-2-9519747-7-7 (Persian version)
ISBN : 978-2-9519747-8-4 (English version)

Publishing in Persian language was made possible through the support of the Prince Claus Fund. We thank all contributors, publishers, and professionals who participated to this collective endeavour –and particularly Sonbol Bahmanyar for the coordination of the study.

Collection État des lieux de l’édition

Zip - 3.7 Mo
Read the study in MOBI format_in Persian

Zip - 3 Mo
Read the study in MOBI format_in English

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Digital publishing in developing countries

In partnership with the Prince Claus Foundation, the Alliance commissioned Octavio Kulesz, a digital publisher in Argentina, to carry out a study on digital publishing in developing countries. This first-ever study, the result of eight months of research, is available in French, English and Spanish on the website :

Who are the new digital players in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab world and in Russia, China and India ? Can digital publishing develop autonomously in the emerging economies, independently from the rich countries ? What support policies are required to stimulate the growth of this new industry and help the traditional publishing sector adapt to the changes ? Based on interviews, questionnaires and meetings, Octavio Kulesz provides an overview of digital publishing in these six regions and puts forward concrete proposals aimed at independent publishers. Digital publishing experience in the South offers an insight into the major opportunity that new technologies present for developing countries — especially when it comes to distribution — as long as local entrepreneurs seek innovative models suited to the concrete needs of their communities.

This online study is ongoing and interactive. We invite your contributions and feedback.

The study is also available in PDF, EPUB and MOBI.

Year of publication : 2011 ; ISBN French version : 978-2-9519747-5-3 ; ISBN Spanish version : 978-2-9519747-4-6 ; ISBN English version : 978-2-9519747-6-0

Visit the Alliance Lab to read the update to the study written by Octavio Kulesz in 2016 (available in French and in Spanish).

Collection État des lieux de l’édition

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Book trade between Spain and Latin America

This study, available in Spanish, was carried out as an International Alliance of independent publishers exclusive by Elena Enríquez Fuentes (Mexico) in 2008.

Her work demonstrates that there is a considerable bias in the trading of books between Spain and Latin America. This assertion is based on the analysis of exports and imports between Spain and Latin America in 2006 and 2007.

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Books donation : rethinking the system

Frankfurt in French : Call for more coherence towards a strengthened bibliodiversity

As the Frankfurt Book Fair (11-15 October 2017) opens in a few weeks’ time, with a special focus on France and French languages, the International Alliance of independent publishers takes the opportunity to revisit some key issues for independent publishers and bibliodiversity, as expressed by 400 publishers from 50 countries, in the International Declaration of independent publishers of 2014.

France wished, in the context of Frankfurt’s invitation, to provide a space for publishers from the South and we are grateful for this opportunity. We hope this openness will contribute towards meaningful networking, discussion, and exchanges among Francophone publishers. These mutual trust and interest, at the heart of the Alliance, have indeed proven themselves over the past 15 years, leading to unprecedented co-publishing and translation projects between continents.

However, other aspects of “Frankfurt in French” are counterintuitive to this dynamic. Book donation initiatives from France to Africa are indeed planned in Frankfurt this year. More specifically, the 30 000 books to be displayed in the French Pavilion will be distributed to foreign countries after Frankfurt – and this while some twenty African publishers are invited to participate in the Fair, in an “African/Haiti” stand. As mentioned in several reports and in the Frankfurt programme (see here), book donations, while underpinned by good intentions, can disrupt the local book economy.

We therefore call on the accountability of each involved — public authorities, associations, and professionals, for these donations to be made in close collaboration with participating African publishers, but also in consultation with local African booksellers. These are the basic conditions for balanced and respectful exchanges in the actors’ respective environments.

It is critical to rethink book donation. Encouraging and supporting sustainable and fair editorial partnerships must be a priority.

We hope that the readiness to showcase Francophonie’s diversity and plurality in Frankfurt will be paralleled with constructive actions by public authorities, both in the North and South. It is indeed essential for political will to accompany a change of perspective and relations among Francophone countries.

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A book donation operation in Ivory Coast : what impacts for bibliodiversity ?, June, 2017

In a joint statement published on 15 June 2017, the Association internationale des libraires francophones (AILF) and the Alliance shared their concerns and highlighted the impacts of book donations on a country’s book chain.

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Book donation programmes for Africa : Time for a Reappraisal ? Two Perspectives, Raphaël Thierry / part 2, 2015

Part 2 : Raphaël Thierry : “Book donations, but at what price, and in exchange for what ? An overview on book donation practice in francophone Africa (in French)”

Pre-print version to appear in African Research & Documentation. Journal of SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa), no.127 (2015) [Release 2017]

Read the article on EditAfrica website !

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Book donation programmes for Africa : Time for a Reappraisal ? Two Perspectives, Hans Zell / part 1, 2015

Part 1 : Hans M. Zell : “Book Donation Programmes in English-speaking Africa”

Pre-print version to appear in African Research & Documentation. Journal of SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa), no.127 (2015) [Release 2017]

Extract from the editorial note of the print issue :
« Welcome to this bumper issue of ARD. Scolma is grateful to Hans Zell and Raphaël Thierry for choosing to publish their full length study of Book Donation Programmes in Africa in our pages.
It is as they say “time for a reappraisal” and it is our hope that the ensuing debate will take place in the pages of ARD as well as online. I would therefore invite responses and feedback to this important and provocative study. Feedback from receiving libraries in Africa is particularly welcome. »
Terry Barringer, Editor, African Research & Documentation

Read the article on EditAfrica website !

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What new book donation practices in Africa ?, IFLA Congress, Lyon (France), 16-22 August 2014

At the 80th IFLA Congress (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), from 16 to 22 August 2014 in Lyon (France), the International Alliance of independent publishers will present a paper on “What new book donation practices can meet the needs of young African readers in libraries ?”
This analysis on book donation practices and their impact both on the readers and book industry in French-speaking Africa, is written by Marie Michèle RAZAFINTSALAMA (éditions Jeunes malgaches, Madagascar) and the Alliance team. She is continuing the research and advocacy work begun a number of years ago by a group of publisher-members of the Alliance on book donation challenges for bibliodiversity. This paper is an extension to the workshop on book donations held in March 2013 in Paris (International Assembly of independent publishers).

To read the paper “What new book donation practices can meet the needs of young African readers in libraries ?” (IFLA 2014), see here.

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Container full of books inundating the market, books produced in another cultural setting given away free to readers or public libraries, the setup of local branches by publishing groups from abroad aiming to achieve monopoly conditions… Drawing on some examples of practices with damaging consequences to the publishing market in developing countries, Étienne Galliand (founder of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers) presents an overview of the predation to which emerging markets are subjected directly or indirectly. An edifying panorama.

As a complement to this article, you can consult the Guidelines for Fair Publishing Partnerships (in French).

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Books donation : rethinking the system, a workshop held in 2013, in Paris (France)

Although several debates and discussions on book donations were held, very few considered, complementary to the essential point of view of librarians’ professional collectives, the point of view of publishers and booksellers.

This workshop, facilitated in the context of the International Assembly of Independent Publishers, therefore has 3 main objectives :
To question existing practices and the impact of the “donation chain” on the “book chain”, from the perspective of local librarians, publishers and booksellers ;
To question, promote and “complete”, if applicable, existing benchmark tools (amongst others, the Book Donation Charter developed by the Culture and Development Association, in partnership with several structures and institutions) ;
To propose realistic and sustainable alternatives to “classic” book donations, enabling us, hopefully, to enrich and built on current practices, through the input of local professionals.

The Alliance wishes to express its gratitude to the Ile-de-France Region for its support and trust and BULAC (Languages and civilisation University Library) for hosting us.

The primary outcomes of this workshop are detailed below.

Also read about the workshop’s indirect impacts on book donations : An article on Africultures, a programme on RFI...

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Publishing in local and national languages

"Publishing in African Languages : A Review of the Literature”, by Hans M. Zell, 2018

“Publishing in African Languages : A Review of the Literature”, by Hans M. Zell, to read here !

This literature survey is an attempt to bring together some of the literature on an important and challenging, and one could well say neglected aspect of the African book sector, that of publishing in African languages, an area that greatly impacts literary production in many ways. It aims to make a small contribution to the ongoing debate about publishing of indigenous language materials, how the profile of indigenous language publishing might be enhanced – and how publishing in African languages could be conducted as a societally beneficial, sustainable, and profitable commercial activity.

Following an introductory overview of current publishing in African languages – and a discussion of its many barriers to success – it lists a total of 170 records, covering the literature (in English) published since the 1970s and through to early 2018. Fully annotated and/or with abstracts, it includes books, chapters in books and edited collections, reports, journal articles, Internet documents, theses and dissertations, as well as a number of blog postings.

To be published in African Research & Documentation. Journal of SCOLMA -The UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa, no. 132, 2018.

© Hans Zell Publishing Consultants 2018

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The Challenges of the Promotion and Distribution of Books in African Languages, Conakry, November 2017

Read the “Conclusions of the Symposium on the Challenges of the Promotion and Distribution of Books in African Languages”, organized by Ganndal publishing in Conakry (Guinea Conakry), 27-28 November 2017.

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“Minority” languages (to be published in January 2020)

This issue of Bibliodiversity’ journal is coordinated by Nathalie Carré (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilisations, INALCO, France) and Raphaël Thierry (University of Mannheim, Germany).

Read the call for papers for the issue.

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African Languages Book Fair – SAELLA, Bamako, 20-23 January 2016

Organised by Afrilivres Association, through the support of its partners and the support of OMEL (Malian book publishers organisation), the first edition of the African Languages Book Fair will convene professionals, academics, institutions, NGOs, and the general public for 3 days of discussions, sharing, exhibition, and sale of books in African languages. An unprecedented and unique event, not to be missed !

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Local and national languages : What opportunities for publishing ?, 11 to 13 June 2013, Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)

While many African languages exist, publishing in local languages is almost inexistent because of the inherited dominance of colonial languages. However, some publishing houses publish in local languages and by doing so reach an often isolated readership. To preserve texts, promote authors, and widely circulate ideas, some publishers wished to meet to facilitate a flow of translations from one African language to another, to develop bilingual or trilingual co-publishing projects – representatives of Africa’s linguistic diversity.

How can we implement these projects ? How can new technologies enable them ? From an inventory of publishing practices in national and local languages, carried out by participants especially for this workshop, publishers will propose collective editorial projects that could be implemented in the years to come with the support of the Alliance, amongst others. The creation of an African language book fair will also be at the heart of discussions : this fair could represent the next meeting opportunity for public authorities and lead to measures that promote learning and publishing in national languages.
Through sharing experiences amongst eight African publishers and input from various participants, the workshop’s issues include :
* raising public authorities’ awareness on the development of learning in national languages ;
* drafting practical proposals addressed to organisations working for the advancement of local languages ;
* formulating recommendations addressed to book professionals and advocating for the creation of a local languages book fair and the development of African language publishing projects.
This workshop is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

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Youth Literature & comic

African youth literature : what visibility on the international market ?

Pays de parution : Italie

From 2009 to 2015, the Alliance developed, on request of publisher members, a modest diffusion and distribution activity in France of youth literature published in Africa (« Lectures d’Afrique(s) ») . This fund addresses a double issue : make literary production published in Africa accessible and visible in the Northern market Northern market and, more modestly, participate in a rebalancing of commercial flow between South and North.
The youth sector, expanding in many regions in the world, is strategic in countries where publishing is emergent – it is indeed through youth literature that tomorrow’s readerships are formed. While catering to their local readership, publishers in Africa also wish to be known internationally. Their participation at book fairs in the North, for instance the Youth Book and Press Fair in Seine-Saint-Denis, reveals the presence of a readership on the Northern markets.

Although African literary output is sold to the general public in the North, is it bought in the context of fairs dedicated to right sells ? What are the necessary prerequisites to participate in these professional fairs ? Would African literature find buyers ?

In partnership with Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the Alliance convened eight African publishers in Bologna from the 23rd to the 27th of March 2013.

Through experience sharing and the intervention of a literary agent specialised in rights transfer (mainly at the service of small youth publishing houses), publishers will also work on the following items :
• Identify relevant catalogues for copyrights transfer ;
• Develop marketing tools to better present one’s production ;
• Negotiate rights and follow-up with business contacts…

Publishers will also reflect on publishing standards in the design and production of books, standards that could facilitate access to international markets while posing a production standardisation risk. How can we reconcile publishing on two levels simultaneously, addressing a local readership and also an international one ?

A session of the workshop will focus on the development of an advocacy document proposing a series of recommendations aimed at book fairs to support the attendance of publishers from the South.

Finally, this meeting will be the occasion for a projects fair, a “mini Bologna” that could lead to translation proposals, rights transfers and co publishing projects. Some of these projects could thereafter be supported by the Alliance.

As an extension to this workshop, meetings with publishers and organisations supporting youth publishing were held during the Fair, providing an opportunity to concretely illustrate the reflection processes carried out over the two previous days, to better discover and understand the workings and mechanisms of a Fair such as Bologna’s. We hope that this support will enable publishers to renew and assure their participation in the long term… and ultimately, that African youth literature will be more visible on international markets.

The Alliance warmly acknowledges the support of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Fondation de France, Centre national du livre and the Institut français of Madagascar, essential to the implementation of this workshop.

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Publishing in India

Pays de parution : Inde

Unlike other Asian publishing markets, like Korea or Japan, the Indian book market is nearly unknown by French children’s book publishers, though this industry is actually blooming.
The Indian book market is a very specific one : the country’s size makes book distribution difficult, many languages are spoken and written, and there is a wide gap between urban reading habits and rural ones. Independent publishers in this country adapt business strategies to these difficulties and the solutions they find are original and innovative. In view of the lack of studies and data about Indian publishing, this study is based on a certain number of interviews with booksellers, book fair directors, market specialists, illustrators, distributors, and publishers.

  • In the first part ’’Quel paysage pour l’édition indienne ?’’, this study deciphers the socio-economic and statistical data in order to better understand the Indian youth readership (gender, language, economical issues, among others).
  • In the second part ’’Le monde de l’édition jeunesse’’, a typology of the different players in Indian publishing is sketched out : multinational companies, state publishing, commercial publishers, independent publishers, NGOs... what are their respective roles ?
  • In the third part ’’Quelles perspectives de diffusion et de valorisation ?’’, the study examines the level and the nature of exchanges between Indian publishing and worldwide youth publishing.

An exciting treatise on a little-explored subject... a must read !

Mariette ROBBES, holder of a Master 2 in the World of the Book (Aix-en-Provence University) lived for six months in India in 2009, and returns often ever since. Since 2017, she is a member of the Alliance Board. Mariette concurrently works on several textile and graphic creation projects.

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Children’s book trade between France and francophone Africa

In this remarkable document, Marion Van Staeyen highlights the persistent imbalance in the book trade between France and francophone Africa, between North and South, specifically concerning children’s books. Some alternatives are appearing, however, to promote access to northern markets for African publishers. Many stakeholders in the sector – among them the International Alliance of independent publishers – are calling for an active and direct redress of the trade imbalance between North and South. A graduate in sociology and editing, Marion Van Staeyen is a second-year master’s student at University of Paris XIII, majoring in the book trade. She is currently attending classes at Sherbrooke University in Quebec, thanks to a partnership between the two universities.

Documents in French.

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Textbook markets


Container full of books inundating the market, books produced in another cultural setting given away free to readers or public libraries, the setup of local branches by publishing groups from abroad aiming to achieve monopoly conditions… Drawing on some examples of practices with damaging consequences to the publishing market in developing countries, Étienne Galliand (founder of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers) presents an overview of the predation to which emerging markets are subjected directly or indirectly. An edifying panorama.

As a complement to this article, you can consult the Guidelines for Fair Publishing Partnerships (in French).

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Publishing in Ivory Coast : a study of the educational sector subjected to offers to tender

Throughout 46 well-documented pages and based on an extensive in-the-field investigation, Stéphane Marill has produced this remarkable analysis of “Publishing in Côte d’Ivoire : a study of the educational sector subjected to offers to tender”. This comprehensive overview comprises an all-new step-by-step guide for publishers wishing to apply for school publishing tenders (read also this article).

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How to respond to a call for tenders in the textbook industry ?

Through a step-by-step approach, with examples and a pedagogical method, Stéphane Marill gives a precious “vade mecum” for any publisher wishing to respond to a call for tenders in the school textbook industry.

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Digital Lab

The Digital Lab was created by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers to support independent publishers in their activities, reflections and digital practices. As a space of reflection, exchanges and discussions on digital bibliodiversity in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere, the Lab also offers digital tools adapted to the needs of independent publishers while respecting local ecosystems.

The Alliance Lab is built around four focus areas :

  • Tools and resources for professionals
  • Reflections and discussions on digital publishing, including innovative initiatives in the countries of the South (surveys and analyses) ;
  • In situ workshops (capacity building and peer exchanges on digital matters) ;
  • A personalised tutorial offered to member publishers of the Alliance.

The Lab is updated and facilitated by independent publishers, the team of the Alliance and also through partnerships with independent professional organisations and collectives from various continents.

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