Our book industry deserves better

Mark Camilleri (Labour's derivative version of me, and their idea of a good joke)

First, I would like to clarify that I instituted a constitutional case against the National Book Council and my successor as an industry stakeholder and not as the previous chairman. I am not fighting for my role back. I moved on and I also do not seek to re-join the public service again. I have spent eight years working selflessly for others and today, I am working for myself and building my own stuff.

In my eight years as Executive Chairman of the National Book Council, I built an entity from scratch which revived commerce and exports in our book industry and served as an autonomous and independent entity which defends the interests of book industry stakeholders. For me, it was a national treasure which I worked for day and night. The book industry serves an important role in our cultural and educational development and during my tenure the number of book publications skyrocketed by more than three times. Supporting the cultural industries in the right way also gives us soft power abroad as it increases our profile and our worldwide cultural significance. I am very proud of the work I did which has so far distinguished me from any other cultural bureaucrat in Malta to date. I will not shy away from my successes.

Unfortunately, my exit from the National Book Council which was brought against the wishes of major stakeholders was a clinical attack on the autonomy and the activities of the National Book Council itself. After all, the National Book Council, under my tenure was the only public entity which had commemorated Daphne Caruana Galizia. My successor is a pro-Joseph Muscat supporter and a deputy headmaster who has absolutely no experience working in the industry. His role so far has been to cut down the National Book Council to size and dissolve its autonomy from the government. Last year alone many services were dismantled and at least €500,000 in funds were not disbursed. The rate of funds disbursed this year by the National Book Council is by far much less than last year while restoration works at the palace which I had begun restoring have so far been halted. An in-house translator working on exports has also been fired and export operations have subsided. Most importantly, the current chairman has refused to follow the will and demand of the stakeholders to choose the Council through elections.

Personally, the new chairman has also chosen to publicly discriminate against me as a stakeholder for political reasons and this reflects the current state of the Council itself. It is imperative that the new chairman respects the Council’s autonomy from the government while abiding by the National Congress of Authors as he should do by law and initiate work to prepare for Council elections.

Currently, the book industry is going through a very hard time, especially with the recessionary environment and rising production costs, namely due to the rising prices of paper. The new chairman, who bears my name (a very dirty way by the government to muddle my legacy and humiliate me personally) is oblivious to the real role of the Book Council and thus is not able to come up with commercial and industrial strategies which can help the industry. The National Book Council is basically headless in practice.  Being a government bażużlu, however, does pay. His role so far has been to radically cut down the Book Council’s services and turn it into a desk which looks up at OPM and serves primarily its interests.

Our cultural bureaucracy is currently run by government propagandists and inexperienced bażużli. We deserve better.


  1. Qas ghal assistant head ma kien tajjeb dan qisu gbejna ahseb u Ara ghal chairman. Siggu vojt kien ikun iktar effettiv. L-iskola tal-Mellieha helsu minnu u tqannew bih tal-Malta book council.

  2. Another really interesting article. Thank you, Mark. As someone who sits on the political fence, although leans towards the PN rather than the PL, I find Mark’s blog essential reading. A perfect accompaniment to Manuel Delia and The Shift. Please keep them coming. We need a mixed diet.

  3. I do not think Mr Camilleri leans towards the PN but rather given that Maltese in general have always shown an unpalatable apathy towards third parties its more akin to going for the current lesser of the two evils

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Salman Rushdie and my last Malta Book Festival – Mark Camilleri
  2. The toxic behaviour of my successor at the National Book Council – Mark Camilleri
  3. Concealing the wreckage at the National Book Council – Mark Camilleri
  4. The National Book Council confirms that my legacy is the only thing supporting the book industry right now – Mark Camilleri

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