Goncourt Winner Expresses Anger Towards Publishers and Ministry of Culture

Goncourt Winner Expresses Anger Towards Publishers and Ministry of Culture

Jean-Baptiste Andrea, the recipient of the 2023 Goncourt Prize, has expressed his discontentment with the National Publishing Union (SNE) and their recent study on income distribution within the publishing sector. He is also critical of the Ministry of Culture for its perceived inaction in mitigating the financial instability faced by authors.

Andrea’s dissatisfaction stems from a study published by the SNE on February 1, which analysed the 2022 accounts of major publishers to assess the division of income. The study concluded that 25% of a publisher’s net turnover is allocated to the authors, while the publisher retains 18%, after accounting for direct costs. Andrea, the author of Watch over her, believes these figures are misleading.

Andrea stated, “The conclusions are staggering and false. (…) Their interpretation of the study is completely wrong”, during a lunch event organized by the magazine L’Express with the bestselling authors of 2023.

The study breaks down the 18% retained by publishers into 12.9% for structural costs such as real estate, support functions, depreciation, and 4.9% as operating profit. Authors receive 24.8% and the remaining 57.4% covers variable costs per title, including manufacturing, editorial work, marketing and communication, storage and logistics.

Andrea argues that the SNE is incorrect in assuming that authors do not bear any structural costs, stating “as if we had no burdens”. He believes the study should not have been published in its current form.

Andrea also criticized the Ministry of Culture for its lack of progress in negotiations between publishers and author representative organizations, aimed at alleviating the financial instability of authors. He alleged that the Ministry of Culture is failing in its role as a regulator and protector of the general interest, stating, “Their position is to divide and conquer. He added, “I am very angry and I am not alone. We are fed up with these ministers who call themselves Culture, and do nothing.”

When asked about these issues at the end of January during the Angoulême International Comics Festival, the Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati, responded that there is no clear majority opinion 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.