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Incoming President's Message - July 2014

It has been a time of change for the Singapore Book Publishers Association. The end of the 2012-2014 term saw the departure from the Executive Committee of a number of stalwarts of the local publishing scene. Among them are Patrick Chan of McGraw-Hill, Vice President and then President of the Association, Vice President Chris Newson of Marshall Cavendish, and Tan Wu Cheng of Cannon International, Treasurer and industry veteran, who was the institutional memory of the Association in so many ways. And of course then there’s Triena Ong, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, who did so much to unite the local industry and bring everyone together under the SBPA structure and framework. She served as President of our Association from 2008 to 2013. Through unparalleled expertise, and her considerable charm (and firmness of will) she built for the Association a platform for future growth and development. We all owe Triena and previous Exco’s a great debt of thanks for their devotion to the industry.

It is up to the current Executive Committee to build on the platform already established. I'm very excited to be working with such a strong and passionately committed group of publishers, who represent our diverse industry, publishing in English, Chinese and Malay, publishing specialised scientific journals and digital resources as well as literary fiction, children’s books and Singapore-developed educational materials that are proving a hit globally.

Previous committees have had to work hard to educate stakeholders on the basic processes of publishing. The next step is to make sure that our stakeholders understand publishing as not just a media industry, but rather a vital piece of infrastructure supporting priority areas of the Singapore economy (and Singapore identity) :

  • scientific and scholarly publishing provides the key connectivity for research & development, in universities and beyond;
  • our textbook and supplementary education publishers provide important content for education, the foundation of our meritocratic society, and an area where the Singapore brand is going global; and
  • book publishing as one of the pillars of the creative industries. Words are still the most powerful tool we have for telling stories that open and excite the imagination, and a healthy local publishing scene has the additional benefit of supporting the writing and storytelling skills that sustain the television, film and gaming industries.

 

We hope also this year to engage our members and our stakeholders to an even greater level. After all, books are in the news. Developments over the last few years, including the loss of so many excellent bookshops in Singapore and abroad, have focused minds on the importance of books and reading in the life of cities and countries. We’re heartened to hear increasingly from Singaporeans how important reading is to them, and to their children. As an industry we can only do our best to live up to the potential that readers here and around the world expect from us.

Peter Schoppert
President
SBPA Exco 2014 - 2016

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