Livnat: Books and Authors bill will become law next week

Legislation seeking to break bookstore duopoly, limiting discounts on new books and raising authors' royalties clears hurdle in Knesset.

Limor Livnat 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Limor Livnat 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Books and Authors bill will pass in a final vote during the current Knesset session, which ends next week, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat vowed on Wednesday.
The Knesset Education, Culture and Sport committee authorized the bill for its second and third (final) readings, which means it could become law next Tuesday, after the Knesset's marathon budget debate ends.
"This is an exciting moment for me and an important day for Israeli culture and  literature and, of course, for the Israeli public, because this law will allow them to enjoy richer, more varied and higher-quality literature in the coming years," Livnat said.
According to Livnat, books are not regular consumer products, they are "cultural treasures," and while she usually opposes intervening in the market, the failure in the book market was so extreme that there was no choice.
 "I hope this bill's worthy goal will be reached," Education Committee chairman Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) said. "We held many meetings, heard countless opinions and disagreements and we put together a bill that I hope will be a success."
The Education Committee added several prizes granted by the Culture Ministry to the legislation, 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% decrease in the prices of books, because it will lead to fair competition between publishers and bookstores.
The legislation will go into effect six months after the bill is passed and will have to be renewed by the Knesset after three years.
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 only be 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