Cultural Marketplace Crisis Requires Immediate Action

The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) calls on the new federal government to act immediately with repairs to a broken marketplace for Canadian books.

Recent reports[i] indicate a 50% drop in sales for Canadian-authored books, only a 7% rate of borrowing of Canadian books from libraries, and a 78% income decline for Canadian authors over the last two decades.

“This is a marketplace crisis for Canadian readers, writers, and publishers,” said Winnipeg novelist and TWUC Chair, Anita Daher. “We have reliable data telling us that Canadian consumers want to read Canadian books, and yet today it’s more difficult to find Canadian-authored titles in bookstores, libraries, and Canadian schools than it was twenty years ago.”

The problems with Canada’s domestic book trade stand in contrast to the global reputation of Canadian writers and publishers, who will be front and centre when Canada is Nation of Honour at next year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest trade fair for books.

“There’s something very wrong,” added Daher, “when the world celebrates the wonderful books of Canada’s authors and publishers, yet our writers struggle to make a living, and our readers can’t find the works that most reflect their own culture among an overwhelming number of non-Canadian titles.”

This crisis has been thoroughly analyzed by both government and industry, revealing:

  • a lack of supports for domestic libraries and bookstores bringing Canada’s books to Canada’s readers;
  • poor discoverability infrastructure for identifying Canadian work; and
  • an ongoing educational copying disaster that has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in earned income from Canada’s writers and publishers.

Government has before it a wealth of targeted recommendations. It must act now. Parliament must adopt key Canadian Heritage proposals to compensate Canada’s writers when our work is copied. Lawmakers must work with writers and publishers to build new supports for the domestic cultural marketplace.

TWUC urges all concerned Canadians to seek out Canadian books for holiday gift-giving, to take part in next year’s I Read Canadian Day, and to write to their Member of Parliament with a call to repair the marketplace for Canadian books. 

– 30 –
 
The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) is the national organization of professionally published writers. TWUC was founded in 1973 to work with governments, publishers, booksellers, and readers to improve the conditions of Canadian writers. Now over 2,100 members strong, TWUC promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. TWUC believes a lively and diverse literary culture is essential in defining Canada and its people. Learn more at writersunion.ca.
 
For additional information
John Degen, Executive Director
The Writers’ Union of Canada
416.703.8982 ext. 221
 
Date: December 3, 2019

 

[i] Reports consulted:
Shifting Paradigms, a report from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage regarding remuneration of Canadian artists under the Copyright Act;
Diminishing Returns: Creative Culture at Risk, results of the 2018 Income Survey by The Writers’ Union of Canada;
Canadians Reading Canadians, a series of reports from BookNet Canada;
More Canada, a think tank report on the domestic marketplace for books;
Use of Canadian Books in Ontario Public and Catholic Intermediate and Secondary English Departments, a study by the Organization of Book Publisher of Ontario.