Peter Phillips on his year as President

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It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since my appointment, but when I look back over that time, I am impressed by the scale of our achievements.

When I spoke at the 2019 Annual General Meeting, I stressed the vital importance of working together as an industry and that’s certainly been evidenced this year. From coming together to call for an end to VAT on digital publications to releasing the largest workforce diversity survey the industry has ever conducted, our success has been dependent on crossindustry collaboration and communication.

That collaborative approach will remain vital as the coronavirus pandemic has brought such significant challenges to all of us. Despite the difficulties we are experiencing, publishers have been making crucial contributions to society at a time when access to the best research, high-quality resources and excellent books are more important than ever. The team at the Publishers Association has been in constant contact with the government throughout, advocating for the support that our industry needs. We will get through this together.

Looking back to the beginning of my tenure, I set out priority areas to drive our agenda for the year: to highlight the UK publishing industry’s importance to global trade, demonstrate our ability to produce quality content; and continue providing society with the tools needed for education and learning.

As our most recent Yearbook showed, the UK publishing industry generates £3.5 billion in annual export revenue for the UK. We’ve played our part in supporting this contribution to the economy through our presence at international book fairs, membership of expert trade advisory groups, and responses to government consultations on post-Brexit trade. In the latter, we continue to champion the importance of copyright to protecting and growing the value of our international exports.

I also talked about publishing’s crucial role in providing the world with quality content. I’ve been pleased this year with how our industry has communicated its support for Open Access while highlighting the need for sustainable models, and with the publication of Quality Control, a report by Demos supported by the Publishers Association. In a world of all too much fake news and disinformation, the report argued that the publishing industry’s products and services, such as peer review and careful content curation, have never been more urgently needed.

Overall, I look forward to the rich and important policy discussions yet to come. It has been a year of extraordinary challenge and change, and more is on its way, but let us remember that brilliant things can spring from difficult times. I remain confident that the UK’s publishers have the skills, ideas and passion to emerge from this stronger and making an even bigger contribution to our country.

This was originally published in the Publishers Association’s 2019 Annual Report.