Pullman calls out publishers’ ‘damaging’ corporate approach
Philip Pullman has called out ‘the ecology of the book world’, in which profit margins for publishers are rising, while the money authors are paid for their work is decreasing, reports the Guardian.
Speaking in his capacity as president of the Society of Authors, Pullman said: ‘To allow corporate profits to be so high at a time when author earnings are markedly falling is, apart from anything else, shockingly bad husbandry’.
‘It’s perfectly possible to make a good profit and pay a fair return to all of those on whose work, after all, everything else depends,’ said Pullman. ‘I don’t like what publishers, corporately, are doing to the ecology of the book world. It’s damaging, and it should change.’
According to a 2016 European commission report, authors had a typical annual income of just £12,500 (A$22,289). Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon, in an article for the Bookseller, deduced that in 2016 authors took home around three percent of publisher turnover, in the same year that (major) publishers’ profits were around 13%.
Chief executive of the Publishers Association Stephen Lotinga told the Guardian, ‘publishers absolutely recognise that writers should be fairly rewarded for their work and they do a huge amount to support talent’.
‘Publishers do communicate directly and transparently with authors, for example through royalty reports, but each contract is business-sensitive and so the communication is understandably with the individual concerned. There are commercial sensitivities around much of this information that will inevitably impact what could be shared more widely,’ he added.
As previously reported by Books+Publishing, in August 2017 Pullman called for a reintroduction of a minimum price for books, which drew cautious support from the Booksellers Association.