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Simon de Jocas

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The “Woche der Meinungsfreiheit” (Freedom of Expression Week) will take place between 3 (International Press Freedom Day) and 10 May (anniversary of the book burnings) 2024. This is an initiative put together by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, the recently founded Freedom of Expression Foundation and the Frankfurter Agenturallianz.

The aim of the campaign week is to provide important impetus for the socio-political debate in Germany and to emphasise the importance of freedom of expression and lively debate for a democratic society.

Every year, people from over 100 countries come together at Frankfurter Buchmesse. As part of the "Freedom of Expression Week", we focus on the perspectives of international members of the publishing industry.

What does freedom of expression mean to you personally? What do you think is the biggest challenge to freedom of expression? What can publishers from around the world do to promote freedom of expression?

In cooperation with the IPA (International Publishers Association), we put these questions to colleagues from India, Turkey, Spain, Italy, the UK, Canada and the USA and brought them together here.

Simon de Jocas, Les 400 coups, Kanada

"For most of us, freedom to publish is a concept related to censorship, imprisonment and even death for the publications of books that are not permitted in the country where we live. That's not the case here in Canada. As you know, we live in a democratic country, and freedom to publish is something that we honor. But I want to talk about freedom to publish from a different angle.
When the cost of paper and printing is high and the power of certain large organizations dominate the territory and dictate these prices, freedom to publish is also challenged with publishers. Small independent publishers are not able to cope with the price of paper and printing increasing, and that puts at risk the freedom to publish.

When infrastructures that dominate the publishing industry define what should be published and have the power to publish their own point of view, that also is a challenge to the freedom to publish.
So as a democratic country, I don't think we should take lightly the concept of freedom to publish.
We should all be very careful about what's happening here and abroad."

About Simon de Jocas

Simon de Jocas is President and Owner of the children's book publishing house Éditions Les 400 Coups in Montreal, Canada. He is also co-founder of the Facebook group "Publishers without borders".

About the Freedom of Expression Week

Now in its fourth year, the "Freedom of Expression Week" programme promotes the expression of opinion and lively debate for a democratic society. This year's programme includes more than 60 events throughout Germany.

Further information on the programme and the Freedom of Expression Week Charter can be found here. in a new window)