Books and Authors Bill becomes law

Livnat: This is a great moment in Israeli culture; legislation meant to lower book prices, regulate author royalties.

girl reading book 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
girl reading book 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A law meant to lower book prices by increasing competition between publishers and booksellers passed in its final Knesset reading Wednesday.
Knesset Education, Culture and Sport Committee chairman Amram Mitzna presented the bill to the Knesset, despite tearing a ligament in his knee earlier this week, and explained that his committee cooperated with all the relevant parties and made sure the legislation balanced the many interests involved.
“I learned that when there is goodwill from so many different people, the sky is the limit,” Mitzna said. “I hope that the law will fulfill its goal.”
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat called the law’s passing a “great moment in Israeli culture.”
“There are times when there is no choice and the government must intervene to save Israel’s culture,” she stated.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who co-wrote the original bill three years ago, said the new law establishes a norm that books and literature are an important value.
Earlier this month, Mitzna added to the bill several prizes granted by the Culture Ministry, including NIS 250,000 for 10 starting authors, NIS 200,000 for young poets and NIS 200,000 to publishers.
The committee estimated that the bill will bring a 20 percent decrease in the prices of books, because it will lead to fair competition between publishers and bookstores.
The legislation will go into effect in six months and will have to be renewed by the Knesset after three years. The Knesset Economics Committee will oversee its implementation.
The bill attempts to break the duopoly in the book market, made up of Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim, by not allowing a store or publisher to encourage salespeople to promote specific books, and by requiring stores to give equal prominence to books from different publishers.
The legislation also requires stores and publishers to reach agreements on what kind of discounts can be put on books, and those discounts can be only on books that are over 18 months old. That includes buy one get one free or similar sales, and an exception will be made for Hebrew Book Week.
During those 18 months, Israeli authors will receive at least 8% of the price (minus VAT) of the first 6,000 books sold and 10% of the price of book 6,001 and up. The bill also regulates authors’ royalties after 18 months.