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The Goncourt winner angry with publishers and the Ministry of Culture

The winner of the 2023 Goncourt Prize, Jean-Baptiste Andrea, said on Wednesday he was angry with the professional organization of publishers, after the publication of a study about “value sharing” on the book market.

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The Goncourt winner angry with publishers and the Ministry of Culture

The winner of the 2023 Goncourt Prize, Jean-Baptiste Andrea, said on Wednesday he was angry with the professional organization of publishers, after the publication of a study about “value sharing” on the book market. This study, published on February 1 by the National Publishing Union (SNE), gave figures on the distribution of income in the sector, based on the 2022 accounts of major publishers.

The SNE concluded that "25% of a publishing house's net turnover goes to the authors", while "18% is retained by the publisher, once its direct costs have been assumed". This presentation of the figures seemed biased to the author of Veiller sur elle.

“The conclusions are staggering and false. (...) Their interpretation of the study is completely erroneous,” he declared to AFP, on the sidelines of a lunch organized by the magazine L’Express with the authors who sold the most in 2023 .

In detail, these approximately 18% are the addition of 12.9% of structural costs (real estate, support functions, depreciation, etc.) and 4.9% of operating profit. The author pockets 24.8%. And the remaining 57.4% are variable costs for each title (mainly manufacturing, but also editorial activity, marketing and communication, storage and logistics).

Jean-Baptiste Andrea considered that the SNE was wrong to present the publisher as assuming structural costs, and the author not, “as if we had no charges”. According to him, “this study should not be published like that”.

The novelist also said he was annoyed by the inertia of the Ministry of Culture in the negotiations, which have lasted for years without progress, between publishers and organizations representing authors, with a view to measures to reduce the precariousness of the latter. “The State is failing. The Ministry of Culture does not fulfill its role as regulator and guarantor of the general interest. Their position is to divide and conquer,” he accused. Before adding: “I am very angry and I am not alone. We are fed up with these ministers who call themselves Culture, and do nothing.”

Questioned on the subject during the Angoulême International Comics Festival at the end of January, the Minister of Culture Rachida Dati replied that, in these negotiations, “there is no unanimity, there is no majority that emerges. That is to say that there is also common ground between them to be found.

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