Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, reflects on 2021

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association.

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, looks back on 2021 in his introduction to our Annual Report.

2021 was another year dominated by the pandemic and all the associated uncertainty and disruption. Publishers carried on showing astounding resilience in a situation that none of us anticipated would continue for such a sustained period. This involved managing not just the ongoing impact of Covid-19, but post-Brexit complexities and supply chain issues. 

It was also the year that the Publishers Association celebrated an important milestone: its 125th anniversary.  

In April, our digital AGM saw us celebrate this moment. We share this anniversary with the International Publishers Association and it was wonderful to hear from Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, their President, at this meeting. In October, we welcomed members and partners to an in-person reception to celebrate this milestone with us. This was the association’s first physical event in many months.  

The anniversary was a moment to consider and reflect on all the times in the past that we have worked together as an industry and made a difference. Throughout our 125 year history, the Publishers Association has been at the centre of many industry milestones.  

We created the Net Book Agreement in 1900, were integral to the Copyright Act in 1911. During the World Wars, we ensured books were marked essential for the British population, made sure there was enough paper for books to be printed and sent books to soldiers.   

We helped establish the Booker Prize in the late 1960s and World Book Day in the 1990s. More recently, we established the first ever apprenticeship for the publishing industry to help widen access – it was brilliant to see the first cohort complete their apprenticeships this year and continue their careers in publishing. 

None of our successes – past or present – would have been possible without the steadfast support of our members.  

In 2021, despite the ongoing challenges, we achieved a huge amount. The pages of this annual report outline these successes in detail, but I am particularly proud of our work on sustainability and the launch of Publishing Declares, our new industry narrative expressing the social, personal, economic and innovative value of publishing, and the successful Save Our Books campaign.  

I want to thank each and every one of you for your support this year. Whether it’s participating in our groups, giving us advice, helping gather data or amplifying our campaigns. We are so incredibly grateful for your time and dedication. Every success we have had is down to you.  

It remains my privilege to lead your association and I have no doubt that the Publishers Association will continue to evolve and thrive for another 125 years.   

This was originally published in the Publishers Association’s Annual Report 2021.