Nearly two years after a draft bill for the regulation of book prices in Poland was presented to parliament, no vote has taken place and a question mark hangs over whether there will be a vote before the general election in October.
While the draft has been repeatedly discussed in several committees, political opinion is divided.
Key publishers— including Sonia Draga who heads Krakow-based Wydawnictwo Sonia Draga, publisher of E L James, Dan Brown and Hilary Mantel—have been lobbying intensely for some time to push matters forward. But despite the increasingly vocal support of authors, the chances are slim, even if the bill makes it to a vote. While many in the opposition are said to be in support of a law fixing book prices, prime minister Ewa Kopacz’s centrist Civic Platform government is not.
According to the bill, which has been drafted by trade association Polka Izba Ksiazki (PIK), prices for new books would be fixed for 12 months, after which retailers could discount at liberty. Many publishers hope that it will help to stabilise the market and stop the migration of book buyers from independent booksellers to internet retailers and the country’s large book chains Empik and Matra, but also to supermarkets, which
have laid claim to a large share of the paperback market by offering large discounts.
The Polish book market has been under pressure for quite some time, but the situation appears to be worsening. During the past five years, the number of bookshops has fallen by 700 (or 30%) to 1,850. Given the findings of a new survey conducted by PIK, this is not surprising: it found that only 42% of Poles over the age of 15 had read “at least one book” in 2014.