MEPs call to support the EU book sector and promote reading

MEPs call to support the EU book sector and promote reading

EP-154203A_CULT

On Tuesday MEPs called to address issues that the EU book sector is facing, such as unfair competition or paper shortage, by supporting authors, translators, publishers and distributors.

In a text adopted by 27 votes in favour, none against and 1 abstentions, MEPs raise their concerns about the growing trends of censorship and self-censorship in some Member States that affect the book sector.

They point to issues such as the unfair competition between dominant online distributors and independent bookshops, as well as to the current paper and ink shortage and rising costs caused by Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.

“It is the first time in 10 years that the European Parliament looks at the needs of this important sector. We have tailored our recommendations to help sector answer the numerous challenges it is facing now, such as environmental sustainability, AI transparency, interoperability of e-books or fair competition in the market”, said the rapporteur Tomasz Frankowski (EPP, PL).

“We ultimately aim to promote reading and book publishing in EU countries via different proposed initiatives, such as the first book programme for children, a label showcasing independent bookshops in the EU or introduction of cultural vouchers”, he added.

Encourage translation

Report calls on the Commission and the Member States to support translation of books in regional, minority and lesser-used languages and in general from languages other than English, as well as translation of European non-fiction books.

Support for children’s books sector

Underlining the importance of early childhood reading, Members suggest, for example, creation of a children’s books category in EU Prize for Literature, as well as an EU-wide ‘first book programme’, providing a first book and a library card to children.

Promote reading

By pointing to the steady decline in reading, CULT committee asks to make books more affordable and accessible to the public, by calling for a zero-rate VAT for all formats of books in the Member States.

They suggest distributing ‘cultural vouchers’ that can be used for purchase of European literary works.

Finally Members say that still an insufficient proportion of books are produced in formats accessible to persons with disabilities, and ask to speed up research and innovation dedicated to accessibility.

Greening of the sector

The Commission and the Member States must support the sector in its green transition in all parts of the supply chain, including on the usage of raw materials, sustainable packaging and transport needed for the production and distribution of printed books. According to MEPs, “print on demand” programmes and limitations for the pulping of books could bring more sustainability to the sector.

The European book sector is one of the largest cultural and creative industries in Europe, with around 600 000 titles published annually and with estimated more than half a million people employed in the overall value chain.

According to the Federation of European Publishers, printed books represent around 85 % of book sales in the European market and are especially preferred by young readers. At the same time many of European children’s books are printed in Asia due to the lack of adequate production capacity in Europe.

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