Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The francophone book industry is significant. It has been successful, but it is also fragile in many respects. It has a market worth three quarters of a billion dollars and represents some 10,000 jobs. It is successful: more than 5,000 titles are published every year. The quality is there and diversity, in terms of the books that are published, is encouraged.
However, it is also fragile because of the small Canadian market, strong foreign competition and the markup taken by the publishers which, overall, is extremely low—hence the need for public and government assistance.
With that in mind—and this is what the brief highlights—we feel that there are four major points to be considered.
First of all, the Canadian government and the federal Parliament should avoid further eroding copyright, which is the engine of creation and is therefore at the very centre of the publishing industry, in the name of what is known as the educational exemption, based on which there should be easy access to all available material over the Internet. Such an approach is of great concern to us.
Furthermore, it is important to strategically position the francophone publishing industry within the digital world, by ensuring that Canada takes its place along side the giants in the field, who are currently going to see one Canadian publisher after another in search of publishing content, with a view to putting that content up on platforms and making it available to users across the globe. We believe that Canada should do what is necessary to ensure that the publishing industry—both francophone and anglophone—benefits from the best possible technologies. A specific initiative is needed to support publishing at an individual level—in other word, individual publishers—and Canadian publishers, collectively.
Furthermore, there is a lack of visibility as far as Canadian books in Canada are concerned, for obvious reasons. Competition is very strong. Are Canadian books reaching Canadian readers through the bookstores, the media, the libraries and the schools? That is not easy to accomplish. Therefore, a considerable effort is needed as regards the promotion and marketing of Canadian books.
Finally, we have proposed the idea of a major national translation program aimed at all books, or as many books as possible, and general literature available in Canada, for all segments of Canadian society, in order that books in French, in English and in Aboriginal languages can be translated into the language of the other communities and, thus, be available to them. In so doing, it would be possible to develop the values and identity that are our strength.
Such a project would also have a significant impact on the economic development of the francophone publishing industry in international copyright acquisition markets. It would allow francophone publishers to introduce partially translated works to our Chinese, Slovak, Latin American or other readers, rather than providing just a notice in English. That would facilitate the expansion of a readership that already includes millions in terms of copyright markets in the francophone publishing industry—an industry which, given that Canada is a small market, should be encouraged, because expanding the industry's international market is an important means of enhancing the success of the francophone publishing industry.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.