Freedom of expression is likewise being placed under pressure in the context of the book market. There was a time when responsible publishers were prepared to publish books which they regarded as having major artistic or intellectual importance, and sales were then not such a great concern. Nowadays the situation on the book market has become so tight that there is hardly any leeway left for such a generous publishing policy. This is particularly disastrous for the books of prominent authors whose work nevertheless remains difficult to sell. It is an insidious process which, in some respects, bears similarities to censorship and has similarly catastrophic consequences.
There are indications that people are not only reading less today, but often more poorly, too, in comparison to the recent past. The rise of the visual culture is probably responsible for this to a significant degree. That development is regrettable for various reasons, not least of all because good reading helps people, intellectually and socially, to reflect more profoundly and strengthens their ability to articulate independent ideas. The fund is considering the initiation of a study on the possibility of starting and implementing emancipative and educational projects for adults, involving a literary or journalistic component. In a follow-up to this, research can be carried out on the extent to which projects can be geared to and carried out specifically for the literary and (related) linguistic development of children. Such projects could be set up both in the Netherlands and abroad.
In certain societies, due to religious or other cultural sociological reasons, some topics such as abortion and euthanasia—but others as well—are not infrequently taboo in public discussions. These topics are discussed, at most, in secret; writing about them is impossible. There is no active but indeed passive censorship. Particularly when this occurs in a small linguistic region, whose population hardly has a command, if any, of a foreign language in which books dealing with these topics do get published, political and social debate remains deprived of contrary views and uncommon outlooks. All the more due to great psychological needs that can arise in relation to such topics, we are considering further investigation into the possibility of making existing literature on such topics available in one or more minority languages that would be relevant within this context.
As a follow-up to the series of booklets on censorship, the board is considering creating a podcast about this theme, with new stories from all over the world that give an insight into how censorship works and what their influence is on the individual writer, or artist. And on society as a whole. There already exists a design in which questions are raised as: what are the different types of censorship? What are the different ways to deal with it? Does censorship work the same everywhere, regardless of the art form and/or country in which the asset is exercised or passively undergone?
The two experienced developers of the plan hope to cast their stories in an accessible and interactive form to reach a wide audience and to make people think about the theme of censorship. How would the reader/listener respond if he/she were in the same situation as the main characters in the (true) stories that are told?
Experience, including with the distribution of titles published in the series about censorship, have convinced the board that it is time to use more intensively the opportunities of the Internet and social media. Better too late than never! We have to find the best way to bring the work of the foundation into the limelight by using the new media.