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Authors warn Brexit could cause catastrophic collapse of UK book industry

By September 12, 2021News, Political

Brexit could cause serious issues within the UK book industry, warn authors such as Hilary Mantel and William Boyd.

The proposals to tear up the EU copywriting rules were “deeply concerning” to the Wolf Hall author, possibly bringing in cheap imports, halting creative innovation, and damaging the livelihoods of new authors.

An international exhaustion scheme is said to allow the sale of identical books cheaply imported from overseas, potentially cutting prices for consumers, according to Mr Kwarteng’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

New figures from the Publishers’ Association show that 64 per cent (£2.2bn a year) of revenue from books is at risk, with authors and illustrators potentially losing income, along with thousands of job losses.


William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart, believes that Boris Johnson “of all people” would understand the danger as he is a published author himself.

“The fact that the government of Great Britain – a nation whose artistic glory is its literature – may seek to undermine the conventions that guard copyright is both utterly disgraceful and almost beyond credence,” he said. “This attempt to deny, or subvert, or water down these hard-fought-for rights of intellectual property must be adamantly opposed. It will be a covert licence for piracy and theft. Shame on any politician who advocates the opposite.”

The suggestion is that the knock-on effect would devastate the UK publishing industry, making book publishers risk-adverse, and cutting the influx of new and exciting stories to adapt to TV and film drastically. New and diverse authors already have a hard enough time trying to break through, and if the risk is seen as too high from the publisher’s point of view, they may not be given a chance at all. We may end up with cheaper books, but we will miss out on some amazing talent. Hopefully the louder the voices are speaking up about the issue, the more those in charge may listen and do something to save the futures of our writers and illustrators.

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