International Publishers gather in Frankfurt with PEN International to signal cooperation in the fight for freedom of expression across the world
Formed by PEN International with founder members Hachette Livre, Penguin Books and Random House early in 2011, the PEN International Publishers’ Circle announces its expansion today to embrace Scandinavian and Canadian Publishers, and its intention to grow across the world in the coming year. The Circle welcomes amongst its members the Swedish publishers Forlag AB, KF Media AB, Natur & Kultur and the independents’ group De Oberoende. Norway will be represented by Gyldendal Norsk Forlag, Aschehoug Forlag and Cappelen Damm, whilst Harper Collins Canada and Douglas & McIntyre have joined from Canada.
The PEN International Publishers’ Circle is the first organization of its kind. It believes that improving Freedom of Expression for writers creates the conditions needed for a successful and active publishing industry. The Circle invites publishers around the world, large and small, to support PEN’s work developing Freedom of Expression and ensuring that publishers and writers are free to operate in all countries and readers are free to access the books of their choice. PEN International President John Ralston Saul commented, “Without a solid publishing system, whether for books or journalism or any new technology, you cannot have freedom of speech. The purpose of the Publishers’ Circle is to join the work of publishing with PEN’s work on Freedom of Expression.”
PEN is marking its growing cooperation with the publishing world at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest media and book fair in the world. At the PEN International event Free the Word: Times of Transition, John Ralston Saul was joined by leading figures from the worlds of writing and publishing to discuss the social, political and technological transitions which are the evolving the challenges to freedom of expression and literature. Speakers included Ronald Blunden, Head of Communications at Hachette Livre; Eva Bonnier, Chairman of Swedish Publishing Association and Publisher at Forlag AB; and Anders Heger, writer, publisher with Cappelen Damm, and President of Norwegian PEN.
Anders Heger says of Cappelen Damm’s participation: “For a publishing house that aspires to play a role in promoting freedom of speech, it is an honour to support PEN International and its vital work.”
Eva Bonnier, Chairman of the Swedish Publishers Association, has highlighted the concrete steps that the Circle will take, commenting, “It is key that we fight for freedom of speech around the world. As Forlag AB, we are proud to be making a concrete commitment to this cause.”
Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, has expressed PEN’s place at the heart of the fair: “For many years, PEN International has been a fixed part of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Freedoms of speech, of press and of opinion have to be fought for anew, every day. These freedoms are the foundation of our whole industry. They are what PEN International stands for, and that is why we support PEN International.”