B.C. book publishers nab five-year tax credit extension after sales tumble in pandemic

Heidi Waechtler, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of B.C. | Photo: Chung Chow

B.C. book publishers will be getting some additional relief from government after a tough year navigating the pandemic.

The province confirmed Wednesday it’s extending its book publishing tax credit for another five years.  

The credit was set to expire at the end of the month but will instead run through to March 2026.

More than 30 B.C. book publishers employing 200 people will be tapping the tax credit, which was worth $2.5 million to the industry last year.

West Coast book publishers can receive a credit of up to 90% of the base amount of federal Support for Publishers contributions received in the tax year.

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Finance did not respond to a call from BIV inquiring about how much the provincial credit is expected to be worth over the next five years. 

Heidi Waechtler, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of B.C. (ABPBC), told BIV in January that local publishers have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Initial restrictions resulted in a decline in sales of about 50% compared with a year earlier.

Those losses began to level off as the year went on, but sales for 2020 were still down an estimated 30% to 40% compared with 2019.

Waechtler also noted publishers haven’t been able to attend international rights sales events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair amid the COVID-19 crisis.

She’s urging B.C. lawmakers to encourage the purchase of locally published books for schools and libraries.

“It’s important that students see … their communities and themselves reflected in the books that they read, and we think incentivizing that throughout the curriculum and purchasing mandates [would] reinforce the value of locally produced content,” Waechtler said.

The ABPBC is praising the extension of the tax credit, describing it in a statement as “critical infrastructure support” that will help them in a “changed marketplace.”

Waechtler said some of the ABPBC’s 30 members have reported direct website orders surging as high as 400% during the pandemic.