It's been a sad week for the Australian publishing industry. The Productivity Commission's report on the Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books was released, recommending that the current copyright restrictions be lifted, thus putting the viability of the entire industry in jeopardy.
There is a lot of misinformation in the media about the ramifications of the lifting of these restrictions. The "Coalition for Cheaper Books", which, interestingly, is made up of Coles, Woolworths and Dymocks, is stating that the lifting of the restrictions will result in cheaper books. This is something that I seriously doubt.
Consider these facts:
- The commission itself has stated that the lifting of the restrictions will not necessarily lead to cheaper books.
- While Australian retailers may be able to obtain cheap remaindered US stock, they are under no obligation to pass on the savings to the buying public.
- There is already a great variation in the prices of books in the Australian marketplace and some of the major chains often charge MORE than the publisher's RRP on a number of titles. Do you trust them to deliver cheaper books? I certainly don't. It is within their means to do so within the current market conditions, yet they choose not to.
- If it is not likely that the lifting of copyright restrictions will result in cheaper books, but it is likely to have serious ramifications on the viability of the Australian publishing industry, then what's the point?
We need to act now. We must lobby the government to reject the commission's recommendations. And more than anything, we need to try to gain the support of the book-buying public. We need to enlist some People Power!
It is a complex issue, but the following blogs explain the situation very well:
- Sally Murphy's Writing for Children Blog: A Layman's Guide to the Cheaper Books Debate.
- Dee White's DeeScribeWriting Blog: Removing Parallel Imports on Books - the Real Story!
Have a read. Have a think. And if you don't want to hand over further market control to the likes of Woolworths and Coles, but you do want to continue to read quality Australian books, then pick up a pen and write to your local member, telling them so.
I certainly will be.