European Publishers Issue an EU Elections Manifesto

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The Federation of European Publishers’ new pre-EU-election manifesto is helping to amplify the publishing sector’s message.

The carte electorale in France — a ‘voter registration card’ — ready for use in this week’s European Parliament elections. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Adrian Hancu

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

Also see: Switzerland’s Frontiers: Academic Freedom and the EU Elections

‘Essential That Citizens Can Freely Choose Books’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the upcoming June 6 to 9 European Parliament elections are worrying many in world publishing this week, with troubling signs of growing strength in the political right.

In France, for example, the Associated Press today (June 3) is writing, “French far-right leader Marine Le Pen isn’t on the ballot at the weekend’s European Parliament election, but she’s likely to emerge as one of its biggest winners. Polls expect her National Rally party to be the top vote-getter in France, trouncing president Emmanuel Macron’s moderate pro-business party. And across Europe, the anti-immigration, nationalist ideas Le Pen has long championed are gaining ground.”

It’s in fact from the French publishers’ association—the Syndicat national de l’édition—that an email has arrived today, directing the association’s email-list recipients to consider the Federation of European Publishers‘ (Fédération des Éditeurs Européens) European  Publishers Manifesto for the 2024 Elections (PDF).

“On the eve of the 2024 elections,” the opening text in the new manifesto reads, “European publishers call on the European Parliament to uphold a vibrant publishing sector, the largest cultural industry in Europe, ensuring that we can continue to freely publish a wide variety of books, guaranteeing freedom of expression, a plurality of opinions, and our democratic values.”

Carefully interspersed amid the text are graphics calling to points of fact that support that assertion of book publishing’s importance and the critical need to be sure that the industry remains free of censorship, pressure, and counter-supportive conditions.

  • Net publishers’ turnover in 2022 in Europe, for example, was €23.9 billion ($26.1 billion)
  • That €23.9 billion figure was up 1.3 percent over 2021
  • In 2022 alone, Europe saw the publication of some 575,000 new titles
  • Print books “represent by far the largest share of turnover for publishers”

In its text, the publishers’ federation writes, “It is essential that citizens can freely choose the books they wish to read, whether for pleasure, information, or education. The ability of publishers to freely publish is an essential value to our democracy, cultural diversity, and freedom of expression.

“The right conditions must be in place for the publishing sector to remain a vital and responsible actor in the democratic and cultural life of every European citizen.

Related article: ‘European Publishers Hail Parliament’s Book Sector Report.‘ Image – Getty iStockphoto: Teka77

“The European Parliament in September 2023 adopted a Report on the Future of the European Book Sector which lists many measures that would support books and reading in Europe. Some of them are listed in this manifesto.”

And the new pre-election piece points out that, in addition to its financial success, the European book-publishing sphere is heavily engaged in issues of environmental sustainability.

“According to a survey launched by the Federation of European Publishers,” the manifesto says, “nearly two-thirds of publishers use certified paper (PEFC/SFC) or recycled sources in more than 90 percent of the cases. Many of these publishers are actively working to further improve their environmental sustainability, but they need financial support, technical tools and guidance from the European Union.” The data for this passage is sourced to August 2023.

Another point made here actually worries some in the international industry: “Book prices have evolved consistently below inflation for the last 20 years,” the manifesto points out.

“Amid the rising costs that publishers face in their daily work, books remain an affordable cultural good in the European Union and in the European Economic Area. (Data for this part is credited to Eurostat, “elaborated by the Federation of European Publishers.”)

On Copyright: ‘The Foundation of Investment’

The federation concludes its pre-election messaging in its manifesto, writing that copyright “is the foundation of investment by the entire publishing value chain. To safeguard the specific roles of the various actors in the value chain, we need strong copyright legislation with carefully balanced exceptions.

“Licenses, whether individual or collective, are paramount to facilitate access to the books we publish.”

What’s more, the federation writes, “These books need readers. Initiatives must develop an integrated national policy for promoting literacy skills, including through cooperation between the book and education sectors from an early age. FEP signed the Ljubljana Reading Manifesto and calls for its recommendations to be fulfilled by actions.”

And in its own delivery of this European organization manifesto, the French publishers’ association writes, “In this perspective, a manifesto from the Federation of European Publishers was produced, to encourage future MEPs [members of parliament] to support the creation and translation of European books, to allow access to books for all readers, to ensure healthy competition in digital, and to support publishing in its sustainable development.”

Overall notes on the elections:

  • A total 750 members of parliament are to be elected this month, which is 15 more than in previous elections.
  • France is second to the largest in terms of the number of MEPs it will elect (81), while Germany is the largest, with 96 to elect.
  • These European elections are held every five years.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here; more on the European international book publishing arena is here, more on the European Union is here, more on politics is here, more on the Federation of European Publishers is here, and more on the French market 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.com, 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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