PM supports bill protecting writers’ royalties

Hebrew Book Week: Livnat's bill hopes to increase authors’ income, break Steimatzky, Tzomet Sfarim duopoly.

A woman searches through books 370 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A woman searches through books 370
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In honor of Hebrew Book Week, which began on Thursday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will support on Sunday Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat’s reform protecting authors’ royalty payments while preventing bookstores from making major price markdowns on new titles.
“As the people of the book, we are committed to ensuring that authors, who create the treasures of our culture, can make a living,” Netanyahu said of the reform, which will be brought to a vote in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation next week.
The prime minister explained that the “Book and Authors Bill” balances fair prices for books, so everyone can read, with the need to protect those who write them.
Livnat’s bill hopes to increase authors’ income while working towards breaking the duopoly in which Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim make up 80 percent of the market.
The culture and sport minister explained that the legislation is meant to fix a major market failure, and suggested that it last three years, so its effects may be examined.
“This bill is meant, first and foremost, to ensure that the Israeli public in the present and future can enjoy quality Israeli literature,” she said.
“This right will only be realized when authors and poets receive proper payment for their creations, so they can continue writing in Hebrew.”
According to the reform, books must be sold at full price during a “protected period,” the first 18 months after their publication. During that time, the prices may only be lowered by 10% or less during Hebrew Book Week and before and throughout the High Holy Days, Succot and Passover. In addition, the sales may not require consumers to buy another book or product in order to get the lower price.
During the “protected period,” authors will receive 8% royalties for the first 6,000 copies of their book, and 10% after that. After that time, they can negotiate their royalties with publishers.
In addition, booksellers may not accept benefits from publishers in order 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.
Livnat also intends to propose an increase in her ministry’s spending on public events to promote literature and poetry to NIS 3 million.
Last year, the Culture and Sport Ministry spent NIS 1.7m. on literary events.