Policies on the Book Market
Regarding the book market, according to a regular survey by the National Book Center (NBC), new publications had reached 10.000 new titles per
year from 2005 to 2008 and declined to around 9.000 in 2010. However, the average retail price of books has risen since 2001 from 13,7 to 17 €. The right of the publishers to determine book prices is regulated by law. It allows publishers to determine the retail price of a book for two years from the date of publication. Retail sellers then are allowed to offer a limited discount (10%) on this price. The purpose of the law is to offer small publishing houses the ability to compete with big retail companies.
A special provision concerning access to books for the visually impaired provides that, upon request, publishers allow the conversion of their publications into
Braille or other formats in order to facilitate access to them25. The market for books in translation currently represents around 35% of the total market of books published annually. Around 4.000 were translated each year until 2008 in a total of 10.000 (40%). This number has dropped to slightly above 3.000 in 2010 (35% of total new publications, which in 2010 reached 8.900 titles). 56% of translated books are from the English language, 12% from French, 4,2% equally from Spanish and German and 3% from Italian. Books by Greek authors translated to other languages account for 7% of Greek publications.
The National Book Center has launched some activities to support authors, translators and publishers. Concerning authors, it supports events whereby authors visit bookshops in Greece and abroad, covering their travel and accommodation expenses. The Department of Letters of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism organizes an annual contest for authors, which serves as a venue for all authors of the Greek society.
Concerning translators, in the past the National Book Center provided financial assistance to the European Centre for the Translation of Literature and the Human Sciences (EKEMEL) to support its training activities to young translators and to organize meetings to promote dialogue on national literatures in Europe. Moreover, it has launched a new program called “Frasis”, sponsoring the translation of Greek books in foreign languages.
With regard to publishers, NBC runs a book observatory, which collects and disseminates data relating to economic and sociological analyses of the book market (such as the public’s reading habits), as well as bulletins on foreign book markets. It also maintains a bibliographical database, “Biblionet”, where one can search books published in the Greek market. Furthermore, it organizes seminars for professionals of the book market to help them familiarize themselves with the database. NBC publishes an English electronic magazine, “Ithaca Online”, which promotes 7 Greek books each month, so that foreign publishers can get a snapshot of trends in the modern Greek book market. Ithaca Online is forwarded each month to more than 1.000 recipients worldwide.
NBC also organizes the promotion of the Greek book industry in international fairs; the children’s book fair in Athens and the international fair of Thessaloniki, which brings together 100 Greek and 50 foreign publishers each year. There are specific tributes to authors and countries or regions, mainly from Europe and the Middle East. More than 150 foreign authors have been presented to the public by means of this venue.