The president of the Turkish Publishers Association (TPA) has called for international publishers to temporarily abandon the advance payment system when negotiating new rights deals in order to "show solidarity with Turkish publishers" during the country's financial crisis.
Turkish lira has lost a fifth of its value against the US dollar in the past week and slid more than 40% in the year to date, sparking fears the country is on the brink of economic collapse. The free-fall of Turkish currency was triggered by the deterioration of US-Turkey relations over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, most recently in retaliation for US sanctions over the matter. On Tuesday (14th August) President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in turn encouraged a boycott of products from US tech companies.
Kenan Kocatürk, president of the Turkish Publishers Association, said there would be a number of serious ramifications for publishers in the country as a result.
"If this mobility in foreign currency and the uncertainty continues: Publishers will have difficulties in printing new material and reprinting. There will be a serious decrease in sales. Piracy will increase. There will be collection issues in the industry which is based on deferred payments. Some small and medium scaled publishers will go through tough times and will have difficulties in continuing their operations," he said.
He continued: "In light of these, our association is working and will continue to work with its members and partners, to get through this crisis without major losses. International publishers should abandon the advance payment system on licensing or should accept a small advance payment based on sales reports, to show solidarity with the Turkish publishers they cooperate with, during these hard times."
The concerns raised by Kocatürk echo those of Istanbul-based Kalem Agency, whose owner Nermin Mollaoglu told The Bookseller she feared Turkish publishers would struggle to afford to print books let alone buy as many books for the same advances from international publishers. A number of small and medium-sized publishers will likely be forced to close, she predicted, affecting the landscape of Turkish publishing.
In a newsletter last week she urged international clients to "consider offers from Turkey in the light of these facts [about the country's current predicament]". In conversation with The Bookseller she said: "Turkish publishers have paid good advance payments for the last ten years but I don’t think it will happen this Frankfurt. Not more than five publishers can now afford decent advances. Even though international publishers will want to sell, they won’t get what they would have done."
Michiel Kolman, president of the International Publishers Association, joined the TPA and Kalem Agency in asking publishers worldwide "to work together to make sure that the Turkish publishing industry survives".
"The IPA views the current situation for publishers in Turkey with concern," said Kolman. "We understand that our Turkish member, the Turkish Publishers Association, is putting in place measures to try and alleviate the worst effects of this crisis. We encourage all publishers around the world to work together to make sure that the Turkish publishing industry survives this significant threat and continues to thrive in the near future."