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NB Publishers receives AAP International Freedom to Publish Award

NB Publishers receives AAP International Freedom to Publish Award


NB Publishers has been chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award for its “inspiring publication” of The President’s Keepers by Jacques Pauw. The award, which is given annually by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), was acknowledged at the annual meeting of the association on 3 June. 

With this award, the AAP recognises book publishers outside the United States who have demonstrated courage in defending freedom of expression. “A guiding principle of AAP’s membership has been the understanding that if one of us is denied the right to publish, that threat affects us all,” says APP President and CEO Maria Pallante.

In a letter informing NB Publishers of the award, Pallante said, “We believe that publishers are guardians of free speech and catalysts for democracy, as NB Publishers has clearly proved. We take inspiration from your commitment to defy state censorship at its worst, including through creative collaborations with booksellers, to encourage meaningful state change.” 

Published in October 2017 under NB Publishers’ Tafelberg imprint, The President’s Keepers has been recognised, along with #Guptaleaks, for helping to enforce change in South African society and the ANC. The book was published amid intimidation and harassment of both 

Pauw and NB Publishers (with a risk of imprisonment and physical harm), also by the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service. 

“We’re humbled to be regarded worthy of this award, and to be joining the ranks of past honorees from countries as diverse as China, Iran, Bangladesh, Turkey and Egypt,” said NB Publishers CEO Eloise Wessels. “The award gives credence not only to our own efforts but also those of the South African publishing industry as a whole in helping to shape the political landscape by publishing books challenging the status quo.”

Established in 2002, the AAP award is named after Jeri Laber, a co-founder of Helsinki Watch (now Human Rights Watch) and a founding member of AAP’s Freedom to Publish Committee. 

Earlier in the year NB Publishers was also shortlisted for the International Publishers’ Association Prix Voltaire for 2019, which acknowledges “exemplary courage” in upholding the freedom to publish. Imprisoned Egyptian publisher Khaled Lutfi was announced as the winner of this prize in early May.



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