Irish bookselling and literary organisations have protested the passing of a new national library tender for books, 60% of which has been awarded to suppliers outside the country.
Bookselling Ireland (formerly The Booksellers Association of Ireland) and Words Ireland, an umbrella organisation for seven literature bodies, have released a joint statement expressing their “dismay” at the tender decision. They say that 60% of the new €6m annual contract on offer has been awarded to suppliers outside Ireland, meaning €14m of business will be going outside of the country.
Last year, the national tender for academic libraries also went to a non-Irish supplier, meaning that “a total of €28 million has been removed from the book industry here in Ireland”.
“Irish booksellers and library suppliers offer unique local industry knowledge, and have been instrumental in supporting Irish publishers and authors by ensuring Irish content is available in Irish libraries,” said the organisations.
“The government controls 100% of the market and its procurement policy will decide how the market will develop. Given the importance placed on supporting SMEs, it is disappointing to see a national tender process harming small businesses and putting them at a disadvantage, or out of business.”
Bookselling Ireland and Words Ireland are urging the government to implement a ‘cultural exemption’ under the European Directive to make the tender subject to cultural sensitivities. This would make the chances of Irish library suppliers winning contracts much greater, they say.
They also point out that if the Irish library supply companies that have lost business are forced to close, new local businesses will be unlikely to have the ability to compete in future because of minimum turnover requirements.
The Irish Government announced its plans to centralise library supply in Ireland in 2013, leading the president of the late European Booksellers Federation, John McNamee, to warn that up to 100 booksellers could lose their jobs.
Bookselling Ireland launched a manifesto asking the government to reconsider last year.
Words Ireland is comprised of Children's Books Ireland, Irish Writers Centre, Literature Ireland, Munster Literature Centre, Poetry Ireland and Publishing Ireland.