Book prices in Wales must rise before businesses can cope with rising publishing costs, the industry body has warned.
The Book Council of Wales (BCW) said prices were “artificially low” to encourage buyers to keep buying.
A Welsh publishing house said paper prices have risen 40% over the past year, as have ink and glue prices.
Another company said it would print fewer books to cover additional costs.
Many Welsh publishers rely on funding from BCW, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion to fund the publication of culturally important but not necessarily commercially successful books.
Mererid Boswell, BCW’s commercial director, said book prices are “stagnating” over fears that buyers will stop buying if prices rise.
“On the contrary, we found that if the cover was of good quality and the author was well known, people would buy this book, regardless of the price of the cover,” she said.
“I think we should be more confident in the quality of books because we don’t justify ourselves by artificially lowering prices.”
Ms Boswell added that low prices “don’t help writers, they don’t help the press. But, importantly, it doesn’t help bookstores either.”
Caerphilly’s publisher Rily, which publishes books in original Welsh and English, said economic conditions have forced it to scale back plans.
He runs Rily with his wife and the couple recently restructured the business to make it more efficient, but Mr Tunnicliffe said he was worried about the broader publishing business in Wales.
“If this is a prolonged recession, I don’t believe that everyone will survive it. If it’s a long period of rising prices and declining sales, he will suffer,” he said.
“I don’t see a reduction in shipping costs. I don’t see the cost of paper going down.
Without the support of BCW and the Welsh government, he says, many publishers “couldn’t survive”.
Another Welsh publisher said the increase in its printing costs was mainly due to a 40 per cent rise in paper prices last year and the fact that its electricity bills nearly tripled as a result of the price hike.
The cost of ink and glue, which are critical to the printing industry, has also risen above inflation.
BCW is urging Welsh publishers to offer a wider range of new titles in hopes of attracting new readers despite cuts by some publishers.
The call is backed by the organizers of one of the world’s leading literary festivals, held every summer in Powys-on-Hay.
“This is obviously a challenging time for authors and publishers,” said Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch.
“There is an inherent cost of paper and energy, but after Covid, a flood of new writers entered the market.
“Especially this year, we have found a ton of publishers willing to hear and see new people at Hay Festival, which is fantastic.”
Ms. Finch added that many publishers are looking to increase the variety of authors they work with.
“Publishers understand that the variety of materials available to them is important because they need to reflect a broader audience – and possibly new audiences – that they haven’t necessarily thought about or targeted before,” she added.
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Post time: Feb-09-2023