The Author Publisher Dialogues

The Author Publisher Dialogues took place at Portcullis House (part of the House of Commons) on 11th June.  They were chaired by Tristram Hunt, MP, Chairman of the All-Party Publishing Group.  He said that writers contribute to one of the most successful industries in the UK: publishing.  Kwasi Kwarteng, an MP as well as a published author (his latest book is entitled Britannia Unchained), said that he thought that publishing’s dusty image was unjustified.  It is now a very modern industry, high-tech and relentlessly commercial.  He is a keen supporter of copyright, and believes that the government has a role in making it simpler and more intelligible for everyone.

Professor Peter Atkins, author of the bestselling textbook BioChemistry, said that he did not think that a satisfactory e-textbook had yet been developed.  “The person to crack the challenges of producing visually beautiful e-textbooks will not be me, but Steven Spielberg.”  Susan Standring, who has edited several editions of Gray’s Anatomy, said that search engines such as Yahoo and Google make it necessary to provide the public with easy access to reputable sources of information.  “There is a need to educate the public about quality control and authority.  This is what a good publisher supplies.”

The thrust of the debate was to illustrate to the Government the importance of the publishing industry, the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between authors and publishers and the necessity of preserving copyright.  It was well-attended, with a healthy press presence.