Forging Forward: The Pandemic
An Interruption, or an Opportunity to Rethink?

The event is curated by BolognaBookPlus - In partnership with AIE In collaboration with IPA - Sponsored by Beat Technology

How the global publishing industry builds the future inclusively, accessibly, sustainably and profitably

This full day headline conference delivers a thorough understanding of the new challenges facing the global publishing industry, vital in order for companies to forge a secure future. The speed and complexity of change recently has set many challenges, but with these come new opportunities. The programme enable deeper insights into the publishing landscape now, combined with ideas, inspiration and pathways for moving forward strategically and confidently.

Co-chairs, Bodour Al Qasimi President of the International Publishers Association (IPA) and Richard Charkin, founder of Mensch Publishing are joined by a truly global roster of experienced publishers, leaders and others, who will inspire, enthuse and inform. 







7 hours




09:15 A.M.
Welcome from conference chairs
Bodour Al Qasimi & Richard Charkin

09:20 A.M. 
Partner Welcomes:
Ricardo Franco Levi, President of Associazione Italiana Editori (AIE)   
Marco Momoli Culture Business Unit Director, BolognaFiere

09:35 A.M. 
Keynote Address:  Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association (IPA)
Video celebrating the 125th anniversary of the IPA

Changing Reading Habits and Securing the Next Generation of Readers: What, and how they'll be Reading, and the Place of Technology.
The pandemic expedited the adoption of new digital formats and changed the way we consume books. Reading habits are evolving, especially among younger generations. This session looks at what have we learnt in the past year about digital adoption around the world, and examines how publishers can harness the power of technology, ensuring that we are securing readers for the future of a thriving publishing sector.

Moderator: Catherine Bell, Scholastic UK
Inspire 10: Caroline Michel, Hay Festival
In Practice 45: Deborah Ahenkorah, Accord Literary; Felicia Low, Difference Engine, Fathima Dada, Oxford University Press Education

10:45 A.M.                 
In Conversation: Elif Shafak and Bodour Al Qasimi

11:15 A.M.                 

11:45 A.M.                 
Equality in Education: Has the Pandemic Changed the Role of Publishing?
Education was and continues to be severely impacted across the globe as a result of the pandemic. It has become evident that a greater digital divide exists in many countries than was originally imagined, leading to huge gaps in education provision. Publishers around the world responded by providing free or low cost access to a range of digital teaching and learning resources. Could we have done more given the inability of so many to access and make use of these resources.?  How can we learn from the exposure of this problem: does publishing stand alone in needing to adapt and what else in the education ecosystem needs to change?

Moderator: Stephan de Valk, IPA Educational Publishers Forum 
In Practice 45: Jane Mann, Cambridge Partnership for Education; Kumuriwor Alira Bushiratu, Learners Girls Foundation; Giorgio Riva, La Scuola SEI Publishing Group; Ameena Saiyid, Lightstone Publishing. 

12:45 P.M.                 

01:15 P.M.     
A sustainable industry for the readers of the future
The pandemic has in many ways highlighted the various inequalities that exist within our society and sharpen the focus on the important role publishers can play in ensuring that sustainability is at the heart of our recovery plans. This keynote will highlight the lessons and opportunities that are emerging post-pandemic and will cover key initiatives such as the SDG children’s book club that hardness the power of books to create the equitable, inclusive and sustainable future needed for everyone.

Karine Pansa, Vice-President of the International Publishers Association (IPA)

01:30 P.M.     
Sustainability and a Viable Future for Publishing. Navigating the Roadmap and Timing for a better future.
This year’s Earth Day saw a raft of announcements from publishers committing to carbon neutral targets. In a year that sees the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), what more can the publishing industry do to ensure it has a sustainable future, and is it a level playing field globally?. What does the roadmap look like, What can publishers do practically?, and how can bilateral relationships and partnerships across the broader book industry ecosystem, and across countries, play a role in ensuring there is a timely plan ahead.

Moderator: Michiel Kolman, IPA Inclusive Publishing & Literacy Committee 
Inspire 10Barbara Schuer, Penguin Random House, Germany
In Practice 45: Kathy Bail, University New South Wales Press; Rachel Launay, British Council Italy; Maliya Mzyece Sililo, Author; Brian O’Leary, Green Book Alliance (BISG);

02:30 P.M.     
In Conversation: Minister Patrizio Bianchi with Richard Charkin

Minister of Public Education (Professor) PATRIZIO BIANCHI was appointed  Councilor of the Emilia-Romagna Region for the Coordination of European policies for development, school, vocational training, university, research and work in 2010. His remit has covered the reconstruction of schools after the earthquake in Emilia in 2012 as well as the planning of continued education during the pandemic. An economist and expert on economics and industrial policy for national, European and international institutions, Professor Bianchi has published 250 scientific articles and 40 books on economics.

This ‘In Conversation’ session will be an opportunity to hear the minister’s thoughts on everything from Italian copyright exports, the allure of Bologna, educational pandemic planning to Dante 700.

03:00 P.M.     

03:30 P.M.     
Taking Local Content Global: The Secret of Success in Building Global Audiences and Content across Media and Geographies
Publishers compete, not only with each other, but with other creatives to build and access audiences. The connected world and blurred media lines create challenges and opportunities for publishers. Four experts share experience and successes of how publishers can build audiences across different media and different geographies.  Does local always have to be global? What are the secrets of success, and what opportunities can publishers be exploring to become truly global players?

Moderator: Diego Echevarria, Ink It!
Inspire 10: Allen Lau, Wattpad
In Practice 45:  Sidharth Jain, StoryInk; Mette Hammerich Caserta, Saga Egmont; Claudia Mazzucco, Atlantyca

04:30 P.M.     
Innovation: Staying in Business, Forging Forward and Making a Profit.
The pandemic forced all publishers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors and readers to think outside of the box, and innovate in the way they delivered books to readers. There were winners and losers. Some countries suffered more than others with a decline in book sales. Others forged forward and changed the way they operated. What has the pandemic taught us about innovation? What are, and how can we engage with, new business models of getting books into the hands of readers? What do investors look for in start-ups?

Moderator: Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks
Inspire 10: Annette Thomas, Guardian Media Group
In Practice 45: Veronique Fontaine, Fonfon; Nathan Hull, Beat Technology; Enrico Poli, Zanichelli Venture; Porter AndersonPublishing Perspectives

05:30 P.M.     
Wrap up with Richard Charkin: 125th anniversary of the IPA.

With your Forging Forward ticket you have access to two free Gateway events, the week before Forging Forward, and four On Demand webinars. These will all be available until end July 2021.

Gateway Events:

  • Copyright Symposium in partnership with the IPA – broadcast 3pm, 7 June 2021 and On Demand until end July 2021 
  • State of the Nations: An Executive Roundtable - broadcast 9 June, 2pm, 2021 and On Demand until end July 2021 

On Demand Webinars:

  • Audio Publishing: Covid’s Impact and Moving on to Greater Growth & Success - On Demand until end July 2021 
  • Accessibility in Publishing - On Demand until end July 2021 
  • A Decade of Diversity in Children’s Books: The Past, Present and Future  - On Demand until end July 2021  
  • The Italian Book Market: facts & figures
    An overview of the Italian book market in 2020 with data on production, sales, reading, import and export of rights. 
    An event by AIE - Italian Publishers Association



Event description

The packed programme is created around five theme pillars - In Focus -  each introduced by an Inspire 10 leadership keynote, and followed by an In Practice deeper dive, with case studies, practical solutions, and debate from a panel of international publishers and leaders. The pillars are: Next gen readers; Sustainability; Education; Enabling Technology, and Content across media and geographies.  In tandem with this comprehensive programme is an equally compelling Webinar on Demand stream. Themes will include; accessibility;  sustainability; inclusivity; audio publishing; copyright and more.

Scroll down for full programme and speaker information


Curated by
BBplus logo
In collaboration with
In partnership with
Sponsored by
 Beat technology

In the framework of 



Aldus Up – the European Book Fairs network
is co-funded in the framework of Creative Europe Programme 2014-2020
and coordinated by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE)