President of the International Alliance of Independent Publishers
Publishing is sharing one’s passion for a text. That entails being fully familiar with, and really involved in, the sphere of debate in which one wishes to include it. Works are not published within the “bubble of the global village”, but within a particular living culture.
In developing societies, furthering and encouraging the contribution of books to public debate and cultural development, and thus participating in the construction of meaning, is no superfluous exercise; rather, it is a contribution towards economic, democratic, social and cultural development, which are inextricably linked.
This is the conviction shared by both the Prince Claus Foundation, which places the connection between culture and development at the very heart of its interventions, and the International Alliance of Independent Publishers, which brings together and promotes independent publishers; that is to say, those not controlled by states, big international finance groups or religious influences.
It is in this context that we asked Octavio Kulesz, an Argentine philosopher, formerly a traditional publisher (Libros del Zorzal) now turned digital publisher (Teseo), to carry out a study on the prospects of digital publishing in developing countries.
It is indeed our conviction that, far from invalidating the publisher’s function, the incredible acceleration in the circulation of works and cultural production brought about by the digitization of communications makes the publisher’s role all the more decisive within the new structure of knowledge exchange now being built.
However, the professional operations and the economic models that govern book publishing will be turned upside down as a result.
Insofar as these operations have, in recent decades, led to a form of automation or industrialization of publishing within that segment of the industry that has been taken over by large financial groups, thereby damaging bibliodiversity, one can hardly feel sorry about these changes and the announced disappearance of a golden age that has in fact never existed.
One of Octavio Kulesz’ great merits is that he does not, for all that, feed the myth of digital salvation, but instead formulates concrete proposals that will enable independent publishers, as the mediators they are, to integrate their own projects and their own backlists into this new context.
In fact, as the reader will see on this website, the approach adopted is to propose an evolving, interactive study constructed in constant dialogue with publishers from developing countries, from the viewpoint of training, organization and experimentation as well as lobbying activities.
We hope it will be a tool that enables the economy of the digital circulation of knowledge and cultural products to thrive on the prospect of development for each one of our societies and cooperation between them, and not on undefined and univocal discourses that will only lead to dramatic identity withdrawals.