Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photo by Marc Israel Sellem
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that he is in favor of legislation to protect writers and literature.

"As the nation of the book we are committed to protect the livelihood of the writers creating our cultural treasures," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu's statement came after protests by 10 of Israel's leading authors about aggressive marketing campaigns spearheaded by the Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim bookstore chains.

Netanyahu's statement followed consultations with Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council during the week. Livnat will submit a bill to bar bookstores from offering steep discounts on new books to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

"The bill will create a balance between the need to protect creators and their work, and preventing books from being a luxury," said Netanyahu.

The bill says a book's retail price will not change for 18 months after publication. During this period writers will receive 8 percent royalties for the first 6,000 copies sold and 10 percent for each additional copy sold.

The bill's draft says special promotional prices on new books will be limited to Hebrew Book Week and holidays and forbids bookstores from rewarding their salespeople for book selling. Stores will also be forbidden to give certain publishers priority in allocating display spaces.

The authors decided to pull their books out of aggressive sales by Steimatzky and Tzomet Sfarim for Book Week, saying they would not allow their books to be sold at the price of four for NIS 99.

The authors called on the prime minister to advance legislation to protect their rights. Two weeks ago 277 authors, editors and translators signed a petition addressed to Livnat urging her to act against the concentration of economic power in the retail book industry.