World Book Day: EU to Exclude Book Industry from Late Payment Regulations

In News by Porter Anderson

Publishers and booksellers worked together to secure an exemption from the EU’s late payment legislation, a decision that protects the publishing’s unique business model.

Europe’s legislative step on April 23 excludes the book business from the new late payment regulation, something applauded by the organizations representing publishers and booksellers in the European Union. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Xavier Lejeune

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

See also: World Book Day: German Publishers Expect To Give Books To 1.1 Million Kids

‘Slow-Moving Goods and Cultural Products’
The European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) is joining the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) in applauding European Parliament’s adoption today (April 23) of the report Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions.

As the publishers’ federation puts it on this, the 2024 observation of World Book Day (technically, this is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day), “The adopted report contains crucial amendments to the European Commission’s original proposal that exclude the book sector from the scope of the late payment regulation, recognizing its unique structure and the essential need for flexible payment terms to ensure a rich and diverse literary landscape across Europe.”

Among other changes, the new legislation puts a standard 30-day cap on most B2B transactions. But, as the booksellers’ federation says, “The adopted report contains crucial amendments that exclude the book sector from the scope of the late payment regulation, recognizing its unique structure and the essential need for flexible payment terms.”

In the publishers’ terms, the plenary text that has been approved acknowledges books to be what the federation calls “slow-moving goods and cultural products,” leaving payment terms in the book sector to be defined not by this legislation but by “agreement between the concerned parties.”

This exemption is a recognition that in the book business, “long payment terms and full contractual freedom are the norm and do not constitute a symptom of dysfunction or abuse,” the Federation of European Publishers writes. “Without this fundamental recognition, the regulation would have constituted a threat to the core functioning of the entire European book value chain, paving the way for a drastic reduction of the bookshops’ literary variety and richness.”

At the Booksellers Federation, officials say that they have “worked tirelessly together with partners in the publishing sector to highlight the vital importance of flexible payment terms in the book value chain, in order to keep an optimal stock rotation throughout the year, while guaranteeing a healthy cash flow for bookstores and ensuring consumer needs are met.

“We’re grateful to members of the European Parliament for their engagement and support, which has led to today’s positive outcome for our sector.”

In commentary of the day, everyone seems to have agreed on language including “rich” and “diverse” as values being supported by the decision.

Ricardo Franco Levi

For the Federation of Publishers, its president Ricardo Franco Levi says, ““On World Book Day, the European Parliament made a very important decision, toward ensuring that Europe maintains a rich and diverse literary landscape, where independent booksellers and publishers can thrive.

“We call on member states to uphold this vital result during the trilogue negotiations.

“In the meantime, I’d like to thank all MEPs who supported us, all our colleagues from the national publishers’ associations, as well as the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) and the European Writers’ Council (EWC), which joined forces with FEP and helped us voice how important this matter is for our sector.”

Fabian Paagman

And for the booksellers, co-president Fabian Paagman says, “Today’s result is a loud and clear message of support from the European Parliament to the European book sector.

“Long, flexible and mutually agreed payment terms in the book chain are vital to ensure a rich and broad diversity of books across European bookshops.

“We thank MEPs for acknowledging this in their vote and call on member states to follow suit.”

Paagman’s team adds, “We look forward to engaging and cooperating with member states as they further discuss their position, as well as with the European Parliament in the next mandate, in order to ensure a positive, balanced, and appropriate text for the benefit of the European book sector.”

And as a reminder to our readership, Amazon has once more this year presented its “World Book Day” promotion, this year running through April 30 and offering a free Kindle edition from a book from China, India, Ghana, Sweden, Mexico, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, or Eastern Europe — with that offer running through April 30.

The promotion once more is themed on the “Read the World” phrasing that relates to Amazon Crossing, which is Amazon Publishing’s translation imprint.

More from Publishing Perspectives on World Book Day is here, more Europe and its publishing markets is here, and more on bookselling 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.