The International Publishers Association (IPA) has called on world governments to help the global book trade using economic stimulus packages during the coronavirus pandemic.
Chair John Degen made the plea in an open letter to World Book Day, which is marked by many countries today (23rd April). World Book Day was held on 5th March in the UK.
Also signing the letter were the European and International Booksellers Federation, the International Authors Forum, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, and the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations.
The letter warns: “Books need authors to write and illustrate them, publishers to invest in them, booksellers to get them to readers, and collective management organizations to protect their copyright. This chain, so vital to society, is under imminent threat.”
The organisations note how the importance of reading has been re-emphasized during global lockdowns but warned more must be done to protect the industry. They do not give details of what specific measures should be taken but call for "governments all over the world to recognise, support and celebrate the importance of books, learning solutions, and professional and scholarly content by adopting economic stimulus packages to sustain their respective publishing sectors and the value chains that surround them".
The letter also states: “The Covid-19 virus is having a disastrous effect on people everywhere. Economies are shutting down and nobody knows for sure when we’ll return to normal, or even if that’s possible. The impact on the world’s creative industries, including the book sector, has been devastating.
“In many countries, our industry is already struggling for oxygen. We must find ways to ensure the future for authors, publishers, editors, designers, distributors, booksellers and those who work in collective management, so that the book industry can bounce back once this pandemic is conquered.
“A world without new books would be a sad and impoverished place. We are working hard to come through this crisis, but we need help to survive. We need governments to help us get through it together.”
The letter comes after members of the Federation of European Publishers warned yesterday (22nd April) that annual revenues could decrease by at least 25% owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In a video conference with the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education & Youth, Mariya Gabriel, the FEP called for the EU to open up funding programmes to help the sector. They also asked for pressure to be put on national governments for initiaitves such as increasing buying of books by libraries from booksellers to inject liquidity into the entire book value chain, alongside providing families with book vouchers to spend in bookshops.
Vice-President Peter Kraus vom Cleff told Gabriel: “The publishing sector is playing its role during this crisis amid the catastrophic consequences for all the stakeholders; authors, publishers, booksellers and all those gravitating around the book world such as book fairs and printers."
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