AAP History

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is the largest trade organization representing commercial, digital learning and education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the publishing industry’s legislative, regulatory, and trade priorities regionally, nationally and worldwide. These include copyright and related intellectual property rights, piracy and enforcement strategies, digital growth and related business models, funding for education and libraries, fair tax and trade policies, and freedom of expression and literacy debates.

The association creates programs, services and member benefits focused on four sectors—Trade, Higher Education, PreK-12, and Professional and Scholarly publishers.

A Federation of Diverse and Common Interests

Since its formation in 1970, AAP has been the pre-eminent advocacy association for the publishing industry. Throughout its history AAP has shaped, influenced and contributed to state and federal legislation and regulatory policies that affect publishers, their products, and the reading public. In the early 1970s, postal rates and mass market paperback distribution were critical issues; today global trade and digital rights top the news. AAP consistently advocates on behalf of the publishing industry both at home and abroad, most notably in the areas of copyright protection, freedom of expression, and the advancement of literacy and education.

A Lasting Legacy

In its efforts to create a free and sustainable environment for publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers, AAP has left its mark on the world. With the formation of AAP’s International Freedom to Publish (IFTP) Committee in 1975, it became the first organized group of publishers formed specifically to defend and expand the freedom of written communication around the world. Since then, the IFTP has:

  • Sent fact-finding missions to Cambodia, Turkey, Indonesia, Cuba, Egypt, South Africa, the former Soviet Union, and other countries where free expression is threatened. The South Africa mission, undertaken during the darkest days of apartheid, resulted in “The Starvation of Young Black Minds,” a report condemning the inclusion of books in the cultural boycott against South Africa.
  • Lobbied U.S. and foreign government officials on behalf of persecuted publishers and writers, including  Ragip Zarakolu, Tragyal, Liu Xiaobo.
  • Organized exhibits and seminars in countries where freedom of expression is under siege, including “America Through American Eyes,” four legendary exhibits at the Moscow International Book Fair during the height of the Cold War, and the “Libros USA” Exhibit in Havana in 1995.

A sampling of AAP advocacy efforts include:

  • Participating as a plaintiff or friend-of-the-court in nearly every major First Amendment free speech case involving government censorship or other regulation of publication over the past four decades.
  • Actively lobbying Congress and the Executive Branch to maintain adequate protections and effective enforcement in their current reviews of federal copyright laws.
  • Obtaining a statutory exemption from expensive and unnecessary lead-testing requirements for children's books under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
  • Achieving a major legislative victory with passage of the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act, a federal statute that makes foreign libel judgments unenforceable in U.S. courts if they were obtained without due process and free speech protections comparable to those available in the United States.
  • Actively lobbying on state and federal levels to help shape educational policy by engaging with policymakers, faculty, and students through advocacy, committee work and forums. 

AAP’s Washington D.C. office is the industry's front line on matters of federal legislation and government policy, keeping AAP members apprised of the latest developments so they can build consensus positions on national public policy issues. Conversely, our government affairs professionals serve as the industry's voice in advocating for the views and concerns of American publishers on questions of national public policy.