What Can We Do For Authors, Nina George?
A special view on the German and the European Situation in and after the Covid-19 crisis
22 June 2020 I I could take an alarmist approach to this: after all, the situation for writers and translators, as the sources behind the german 13.4 billion-euro book value chain, continues to be serious. Event cancellations, sales losses, programme downsizing and reduced advance fees. Writers also fall through the cracks when it comes to governmental support – our state apparatus is not prepared for a freelancer crisis.
However, I would like to couch this in different terms: pride. Yes, I am proud of my colleagues. They refuse to be left high and dry. They continue to write, even if they don’t know what lies in store for them. They talk about money. They make the case for fairness, for anti-racism. They support one another at Zoom campfires, tweet against Trump, knit masks and motivate readers to make purchases at their local bookshops. The crisis releases something both gentle and forceful alike; in the words of the late Carlos Ruiz: “Every single book has a soul. The soul of those who wrote it, and the soul of those who read it, experienced it and dreamt of it.”
And defending these people, these souls interwoven with each book: this should be the joint mission pursued by the entire book world.
On 29 May, upon official request, the Netzwerk Autorenrechte (Network for Authors’ Rights) sent a crisis stocktaking including action paper to the German Federal Chancellery to propose solutions for the economic stimulus package. On 2 June, we submitted an evaluation of the EWC study of 24 countries on economic repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis for the European book world, which contains 37 recommendations. Germany could draw inspiration from Italy with its Reading Promotion Act, from France with its payments of up to 1,500 euros / month for writers, or from Spain with its remuneration fund for school events. I also would like to see life-long Lesen! (reading!) funds for reading fees according to the Swiss model; and in order to put hybrid formats such as “Herein, bitte!” (Come in, please!), at dringeblieben.de on a solid foundation, consideration could be given to the Literatur-Online! funds. What’s more, I’d like to convene an book sector summit. Our papers can lay the groundwork for us to jointly champion EVERYONE behind every book.
English translation: Philippa Carr.