Livnat bill hopes to raise authors’ earnings, lower prices

Ministers expected to approve legislation next week.

Limor Livnat (photo credit: Yoav Dudkevich)
Limor Livnat
(photo credit: Yoav Dudkevich)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to vote Sunday on a bill to lower book prices and increase authors’ earnings from sales.
“This is an important bill that is meant to make sure the Israeli public can continue to enjoy high-quality, varied Israeli, Hebrew literature,” Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, who sponsored the bill, said on Thursday. “A book is a cultural treasure and not just another consumer product and we must make this distinction.”
“The Israeli public will be the main victim [if the bill doesn’t pass,” she added.
Livnat said the future of Hebrew literature was in danger and pointed to serious failures in the literature market that make it difficult for authors to make a living.
The Books and Authors Bill, which was introduced in the last Knesset and passed in its first reading, would have become law had there not been an election, Livnat said.
The bill is expected to pass easily this time around. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi), Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz all support the legislation.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is also expected to back the bill, even though Finance Ministry economists oppose it.
Livnat’s bill aims to increase authors’ income while working towards breaking the duopoly in which book-retailers Steimatzky and Tzomet-Sfarim dominate up to 80 percent of the market.
According to the reform, books must be sold at full price during a “protected period,” the first 18 months after their publication.
Within that time frame, prices can be lowered by 10% or less during Hebrew Book Week and before and throughout the High Holy Days, Succot and Passover.
In addition, sales may not require consumers to buy another book or product in order to get the lower price.
During this “protected period,” authors will receive 8% royalties for the first 6,000 copies sold and 10% for all additional sales. After, royalties can be negotiated with the publishers.
In addition, booksellers may not accept benefits from publishers to promote titles and specific publishers may not be given preference in presentation of books in stores. Publishers may not refuse to sell to a specific store as long as they pay full price for books.