Postage charges for books within Switzerland can amount to double the percentage received by authors in royalties, Wendelin Hess, director of Basel publishing house Echtzeit, told the Tages Anzeiger paper on Monday.
Swiss Post charges a minimum of seven francs (6.40 euros) to send a package economy post within the country, and nine francs (8.20 euros) for priority post.
Even when publishers benefit from a bulk discount it still costs around 5.80 francs (5.30 euros), said the paper.
That's a large burden to bear for publishers and booksellers, given the customer who orders online “expects free delivery”, Hess told the paper.
On a 29 franc book, postage costs mean nearly 25 percent of the purchase price of a book is going to Swiss Post.
“That's around twice as much as the author gets,” Hess said.
Dani Landolf, director of the Swiss booksellers and publishers association (SBVV), also criticized the high charges, saying they put Swiss bookshops at a disadvantage over foreign competitors.
In Germany for example, posting a book within the country through Deutsch Post costs just one euro for a standard package and 1.65 euros for a larger one. Sending a package to Switzerland costs 3.70 euros for up to 500 grams.
Bernhard Bürki, spokesman for Swiss Post, defended the charges, saying that the Swiss postal service delivers quicker than its German counterpart.
“We are obliged by law to set realistic prices,” he added.
One solution would be for the federal government to subsidize postage costs for books, as it currently does for newspapers to the tune of 50 million francs a year.
“Such a system would help Swiss publishing houses,” Hess told Tages Anzeiger.