The International Publishers Association (IPA) has urged Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to protect the country’s reading and book culture during the ongoing financial crisis.
In a letter, IPA secretary general Jens Bammel wrote of how the Greek publishing industry has “suffered enormously” during the economic crisis, “shrinking by 40% in the last 5 years”.
He called for Greece to retain both its current reduced rate of 6.5% VAT on books and the country's fixed book price regime. He emphasised that "reduced VAT rates for books are common policy in most major economies. This policy supports reading, education and access to knowledge, which are key elements for building Greece’s economic future."
He added that countries ensuring citizens have access to a wide range of locally published books through fixed book price policies “creates diversity and geographical reach for books — an essential basis for maintaining a national culture of books and reading".
Bammel said: “Reading and books provide an important and inexpensive source of entertainment, education and cultural expression, as well as being vital for the health of the political system. During the current difficult times, the Greek publishing industry deserves these modest forms of support."
Radical publisher Zed Books published extracts from Varoufakis' The Global Minotaur, which outlines a new economic agenda for the global economy, based on sustainability and social justice, as a free e-book in January following his appointment as finance minister of Greece.