Gov’t: ‘Book Law’ Backfired

Bookstore. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
A bookstore. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The government will discuss a measure Sunday to cancel the “book law,” which many writers have blamed for a drastic reduction in sales of books – exactly the opposite of the original intent of the 2014 law which requires that authors receive a specific percentage of book sale proceeds.

The book law was promoted by MKs, as their response to pleas from authors of Hebrew books. The authors were dismayed to find that their works were deeply discounted almost as soon as they went on sale, consigned to “four for 100 shekel” sales. According to those promoting the original bill, there was little incentive for writers to create new works, because of the small amount of money they could earn on a book.

The law prevents any discounting of books until 18 months after they are released by publishers, meaning that they must be sold at full price. According to MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), sponsor of the bill, that works out fine for well-known authors, whose books the public is willing to pay full price for – but books written by less-known authors collect dust, with the result that the vast majority of writers are making even less money now than before the current law was instituted.

The law was to remain in effect for three years in order to determine its effect on the market. Kisch’s law would end the experiment a year sooner.

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