The SBPA nurtures strong relationships with our key stakeholders who play a critical role in the development of the publishing industry in Singapore.

Headed by our President, Mr. Peter Schoppert and supported by the EXCO and Secretariat, the SBPA regularly engages stakeholders on industry updates and trends.

Policy Agenda

The 74 members of the Singapore Book Publishers Association represent a S$ 1.7b contribution to the Singapore economy, and power our R&D infrastructure, our creative industries, and partner parents, teachers and schools in the enterprise of education.

We deeply value the opportunities we have to give feedback to Singapore’s government agencies on Singapore’s public policies. These are our priorities for 2017/18.

1. We need to ensure the proposed revisions to the Copyright Act do not damage Singapore’s content creation ecosystem and Singapore’s position as an IP hub and nexus for the international publishing business. We have given extensive input to the Ministry of Law in response to their Copyright review consultation paper, as many of the ideas floated in the paper would have negative consequences for that ecosystem. We have no visibility on MinLaw’s evolving conclusions based on their public consultation, but we will use other channels to continue to raise our views. We also gave feedback on the operation of Singapore’s collective management organisations.

2. We seek a strategic dialogue with the Ministry of Education. Our educational publishers are finding success overseas, as Singapore students’ excellent performance on international tests attracts attention globally. However, the partnership between educational book publishers and MOE needs attention. There is insufficient dialogue at a strategic level, and we have concerns that the private sector is not being leveraged well enough. One goal in further dialogue would be to develop a better system for encouraging innovation in developing curricular materials and systems. Finding a sustainable and diverse approach to creating curricular materials, better involving our industry, will result in better equality of opportunity for students, without increasing demands on teachers. The bonus would be the creation of even more opportunities for inward investment and outward exports.

3. We will actively engage with IMDA on the Infocomm and Media Industry Transformation Map, sharing our views of the challenges ahead, and on the measures we can take at industry level. We have a concrete agenda already under way to boost productivity and human capital at industry level. Book publishers have been adjusting to the disruptive forces of digitisation since the desktop publishing revolution of the 1980s, but there is still work to be done, and a new generation of disruption headed our way.

4. We seek to find ways to ensure the continued health of local content creation ecosystems in vernacular languages and English. As Singapore is a small market, but a highly open economy, reading and writing in global languages, our content creators and producers face challenges in achieving a critical mass of audience, skills and experience. The upside of our situation is that once we do hit critical mass, we have good access to large export markets. The government already recognises market failure in content creation for television, and funds the local broadcast industry with some S$250m per year to encourage local content creation in line with public interest goals. Book publishing, with many of the same challenges, receives less than $1m in support, and even that support comes with unpredictable conditions. A comparatively small increase in local content creation funding for books, or to encourage projects that cross media, would have a disproportionately positive impact.

5. We need to continually be vigilant of the health of the book retail and book supply chain. While e-commerce is an unstoppable force, the current GST regime favours overseas players against local online and bricks-and-mortar retailers. Overseas publishers have been able to harness the market power and reach of the largest e-book retailers to reach the Singapore market for some 20 years. Local players would need to stock books overseas in the US and UK to do the same. We note that government has started to speak of ensuring “traditional and digital businesses are taxed on a level playing field” and we welcome this new emphasis.

6. Now that reading promotion is established as a priority at a national level, supported by a National Reading Movement under the National Library, we need to extend it further to bolster a healthy commercial book ecosystem. We need to encourage the purchase of books for the home as well as increasing library usage, which is already the world’s highest. Having books at home turns out to be one of the best indicators of educational attainment and social mobility, across societies and cultures.