The All Party Parliamentary Group on Publishing has called for evidence from the trade as it seeks to maintain a “world-leading” publishing sector in the UK.
Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, took over the chair of the APPG in December from Iain Wright, MP for Hartlepool, after the group had disbanded for six months. He is now urging the trade to share their views on future challenges such as the impact of Brexit, export growth, copyright and IP, education and research, literacy and accessibility and bookselling and piracy. The information will inform a report produced by the APPG towards the end of the year, with policy recommendations for government.
The eight-member group, drawn from across the political spectrum, is considering the economic, cultural and social benefits to the publishing brings to the UK, so that parliamentarians can “develop and grow our great UK publishing industry at a crucial time,” according to Lewer.
The Conservative MP told The Bookseller: “I do hope that the publishing industry, generating up to £7.8bn (GVA) for the wider economy and supporting more than 70,000 jobs directly and indirectly will get the attention it deserves from both policymakers and stakeholders in the private sector.”
The inquiry, titled ‘Call for evidence: how to maintain a world-leading publishing sector’ explores how the trade faces a “number of challenges in the coming years” including protecting copyright and IP protection abroad, to the future trading relationship with the EU and the rest of world, as well as working to end the VAT discrimination on digital publications and to promoting wider literacy and accessibility. “2018 will prove a decisive year for the industry and will likely set its regulatory framework for years to come,” the document reads.
Whilst Lewer is “very hopeful for the future of the publishing industry” he also wants it to be appreciated further for the economic capital it provides. In addition to the issues mentioned in the call for evidence, he is also considering on how to reduce VAT on e-books to match the printed book rates.
In his new role, Lewer told The Bookseller he wants to work closely with bookshops and writers, as well as publishers, and has formed close links with the APPG Writers’ Group. He has previously worked for small local publishing companies in Derbyshire and Sheffield and has written for the Oxford University Press.
He also wants to ensure that the industry is less centred on the capital. “As MP for Northampton South, Lancashire born and Derbyshire bred, I am particularly aware of the need for us to be a UK-wide APPG and not become exclusively London focused,” he said.
In March, the group urged government to keep barriers on trade "at an absolute minimum" for books during negotiations to leave the European Union using whatever trade-off is offered to impose them.
The APPG receives administrative support from the Publishers Association.
Written evidence of up to 3,000 words in Word format can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org until 5pm on 15th March.
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