European Publishers Hail Parliament’s Book Sector Report

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The European Parliament’s bibliographic book-sector review names books and reading second only to watching and listening to programs among cultural activities in the bloc.

At Brussels’ European Parliament building. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Teka77

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Report: In 2021, Turnover of More Than €23 Billion
In its statement today from Brussels (September 14), the Federation of European Publishers notes that today’s adoption by the European Parliament of what’s called the Future of the European Book Sector report is “the first time in 10 years that the parliament has made dedicated recommendations for the [book] sector, in which Europe is a world leader.

As is clear in this briefing from the parliament’s offices, the report is a “bibliographical review” ordered up by the rather direly termed “Cult Committee,” which is the legislative body’s committee responsible for cultural and educational elements of the European Union.

In this briefing’s introduction, we read, “Besides its important cultural value and role, the book sector is an essential economic activity in the EU.

“In 2021, it was assessed as the second cultural activity, right after watching or listening [to] a program, and represented 12 percent of the EU average cultural expense. Still in 2021, it had a turnover of more than €23 billion (US$24.5 billion), 18 percent of it being generated by export (a rate relatively stable over the years).”

This compendium of papers, however, contains nuanced points that get at the caution required in an age of unprecedented dynamics that include—by organizational headers—digital and digitization; ecological considerations; market evolution; diversity and accessibility; COVID-19; and “stakeholders’ points of view.” At various points in this material, you can catch glimpses of the fact that books and publishing exist today in an historically unprecedented competitive environment of electronically produced and distributed entertainment media.

The federation in its statement reflects this, writing that the report, “recognizes the fundamental contribution of the book sector, providing citizens with millions of books to educate and entertain themselves.

“But this contribution relies on key elements which must be defended, even in the EU: including a balanced value chain, freedom of expression, editorial diversity, and independence from state censorship.”

The book sector also has a societal responsibility to fulfill, according to the federation, such as to become greener; provide more accessible books to people with a handicap; or support Ukraine. The report underlines the initiatives already taken by the sector but also highlights the need for further technical and financial support to help publishers in their efforts.”

Levi: ‘Many Good Proposals’

Federation president Ricardo Franco Levi is quoted, saying, “The European Parliament made very important proposals to ensure that Europe remains the world leader of publishing, while facing the many challenges of the 21st Century.

Ricardo Franco Levi

“I want to thank the rapporteur, Tomasz Frankowski, as well as all the parliament’s negotiators for their good collaboration.

“We call on [EUI] member-states and the European Commission to implement in the next mandate the many good proposals of this report.”

And in terms of the usefulness of this exercise, it’s a tool that book-industry leaders can use to argue for more attention and support for the book sector.

Members of the European Parliament, the publishers write, “call for a stronger place for the book sector in existing EU programs, such as Creative Europe and Horizon—the latter of which having made news last week when the United Kingdom rejoined—to support translation, the circulation of books, innovation, and research.

“The Parliament also calls for national and European initiatives to support reading promotion, such as book vouchers or ‘reading ambassadors.'”

In the vote today, of 532 possible ballots, 513 were cast in support of the Future of the European Book Sector. The briefing can be seen here (PDF). It’s recommended that you look carefully at the dates in which various component papers were produced, as they span a time frame of some two decades.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the work of the Federation of European Publishers is here, more on industry statistics is here, and more on Europe and its book and publishing markets is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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