Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 23

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21
L
a p id e
— B
ooks
in
t h e
L
a nd
o f
t h e
B
ook
reading and author’s fees are some 15% below average prices
prevalent in Western Europe. On the other hand, paper is more
expensive. Since some local services like bookbinding are also
more expensive, in the final analysis Israeli book-production
expenses are equal to those of Europe, though still considerably
lower than in the United States.
A factor making for low consumer prices of most locally printed
books is the agreement sponsored by UNESCO according to
which all foreign books are imported duty free.
Compelled to compete with a flood of high-class products from
abroad, local publishers have of late gone into paperbacks. Am-
Oved, the labor publishing house, for instance, sells its monthly
new issue for one Israeli pound a copy—about half the price of a
cinema ticket. With a subscription list of 16,000 it has distributed
over one million pocket books so far, including some of the best
original works of the literary season.
Publishers have attributed the low cost of Hebrew hard cover
books to the many reprint editions. Since the local publisher
begins to make a profit only on the second and subsequent
editions, it takes such gilt-edged classics as Bialik’s
Collected
Works,
of which 42,000 sets have been sold to date, to make
money by making books.
It is therefore natural that printers, publishers and booksellers
have made a great effort to find outlets for Israeli books abroad.
In 1950 the Israel Publishers Association founded a joint export
company, called Israel Books Ltd., which made thousands of
titles available to Hebrew readers abroad. In addition, Hebrew
books were displayed at 14 international book fairs during the
last three years in places as far apart as Ghana, Poznan and
Chicago. Successful book exhibits held in major cities in the
United States and Canada have drawn crowds of religious and
lay leaders, teachers and the general public, who were sufficiently
impressed by the quality of Israeli books to buy 290,832 in 1956,
490,043 in 1959 and close to three-quarters of a million copies
in 1963.
The main exporter of translated literature is the Israel Scien-
tific Translation Programme. This enterprise, set up under an
agreement between the United States and Israeli governments
through the National Science Foundation, engages chiefly in the
translation of scientific books from Russian into English. Since
its foundation five years ago it has produced 1,600 publications,
of which 380 were full-length books, the rest being articles, mono-
graphs and pamphlets. Although each publication is printed in
Israel in only 1,000 copies, its export during the last two years
brought in $787,000 and $825,000 in hard currency. The main
customer is the National Science Foundation, although, being a