Tbilisi: Speaking to delegates attending the Caucasus and Black Sea Basin Countries' Regional Publishing Conference in Tbilisi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA), Bodour Al Qasimi outlined the many challenges impacting publishers following the pandemic – from supply chain disruptions to copyright issues and environmental pressures.

She highlighted broader issues of sustainability, diversity and inclusion which are central to the association’s ongoing discussions on the future of the industry, but also noted the vital role of publishers in upholding the principles of dialogue and understanding, serving as a gateway to peace in times of conflict. This important role has been brought to the fore by the current geopolitical situation across the black sea in Ukraine.

Bodour explained the importance of conferences such as this – which she described as an excellent example of creative collaboration in the region – in diplomatic terms, with words and books offering the chance to build bridges and heal divisions. However, she also spoke of their importance as tools to enhance the publishing economy too. She called upon industry stakeholders to push boundaries and overcome obstacles through stronger partnership and teamwork.

Her visit to Georgia came as Tbilisi ends its time as UNESCO’s 2021 World Book Capital. She commended the city for its vibrant agenda of creative cultural and literary activities and reaffirmed her belief that it would leave a positive and enduring legacy, just as being named World Book Capital in 2019 has done for Sharjah.

During her visit, she met members of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association, underscoring the importance of upskilling and capacity building as priorities for publishers given the shifts taking place in the industry. She urged publishers to take advantage of the world-class learning materials offered by the IPA Academy – the IPA’s online learning portal that recently went live.

As part of her visit, Al Qasimi launched the Georgian translation of her children’s book, World Book Capital with a reading session in English while Gvantsa Jobava, Deputy Chair of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association, told the story in Georgian.