The owner of the publishing house Ekonomia, financier Zdeněk Bakala, left
the organisation’s statutory bodies on Monday, as has his wife Michaela.
Mr Bakala remains the sole shareholder of Ekonomia, which publishes, among other titles, the business daily Hospodářské noviny, the weekly Ekonom and the liberal intellectual weekly Respekt.
In a press release issued Monday, Mr Bakala said that he regarded the publishing house as an important investment, through which he wants to promote independent journalism in the Czech Republic.
The Association of Czech booksellers and publishers has launched a new campaign called ‘Books without VAT’ in order to drum up support for the existing 15 percent rate to be slashed. The centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka is due to discuss the matter, possibly lowering the VAT on books and some other items to as little as five percent.
Sony Music will close its Czech subsidiary, Sony Music Entertainment Czech Republic, in the coming weeks, after 23 years on the market, the news website borovan.cz reported. No official reason has been released but it has been speculated the Czech market was too small for the firm to maintain a branch. The move comes at a time when Sony Music closes down its Budapest branch as well which managed the offices in Prague. Sony Music had some 20 percent share of the Czech market, and represented some best selling artists such as Daft Punk, Depeche Mode and the popular Czech singer songwriter Tomáš Klus.
Publishers, booksellers as well as many consumers in the Czech Republic are far from happy about the government’s intention to raise the VAT on goods including books to a uniform 20 percent to help pay for its pension reform. Those in the book market fear that it will be hard hit and say that in principle books as a cultural mainstay should be exempt, and that has led to an online petition now signed by more than 80,000. But so far – despite the culture minister’s own misgivings over the higher VAT on books – there has been no signal from the government
The Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers on Thursday called on the government and parliament not to hike Value Added Tax on books from 10.0 percent to 20 percent under a proposed standardization of sales tax rates. The association said that thousands of books would not be published if the step was taken in a public call to defend books. The association has started to collect signatures against the tax rise. It says book sales and new releases were seriously hit when the tax was previously raised to 10 percent.
This week’s edition of One on One features one of the joint founders of the biggest Czech publishing house for audio books, Tympanum. The company publishes dozens of titles, not just in Czech but also in Slovak. While still a relatively new phenomenon, Karel Černošek says audio books are beginning to carve out a place for themselves on the market. Chris Johnstone caught up with him recently at a café in the centre of Prague to talk about selling literature as the spoken word.
For the first time since 2005, there has been a fall in the number of books published in the Czech Republic. A regular survey by the Czech National library shows that the number of books published in 2009 was about a thousand lower than the previous year. However, despite the decrease Czechs still rank among the most avid readers in Europe and overall sales of books remain pretty much on the same level.
The events of 1989 commemorated 20 years on this week brought back many emotional memories. I was 19 when it happened, still living at home, only not in Czechoslovakia, but in Canada. Like thousands of others of Czech descent, born in new countries, I watched the Velvet Revolution unfold on the TV screen, night after night, until, somehow, miraculously at the end of it, the Communist system crumbled and collapsed.