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By now, you would have heard the anguished cries of authors around Australia railing against the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to lift all Parallel Importation Restrictions (PIR). The Commission’s report can be summed up a few keypoints:

  • repeal PIR protecting Australian publishers and independent booksellers in 3 years
  • ‘review’ the financial assistance needs of the Australian literary sector
  • ABS to survey industry and measure impact of changes in 5 years

In case you didn’t catch the drift there, the Commission is recommending that the currently self-sustaining Australian literary sector be forced to take taxpayer handouts, so that profits can be syphoned off to big booksellers.

Heading the media charge to spin these findings in favour of Australian readers is Dymocks CEO, Don Grover, who heads up the so-called Coalition for Cheaper Books."This will only serve to bring in a more competitive market," says Grover. Excuse me? How is a market where smaller booksellers are wiped out and fewer Australian titles available for sale more competitive? Ah, I see, he mispoke. He clearly meant to say "…a more profitable market. For me." Got it.

Bob Carr claims the report is "A win for Australian literacy". Awesome! This from the man whose political legacy has been to completely trash the infrastructure of the state of New South Wales, and now has the Australian writing and publishing industry in his sights. Good to see he is at least consistent in his strip mining approach to social equity and infrastructure, since the books available to Aussie kids will finally teach them how to pronounce "mom" and "zee" correctly. Bring on the Republic.

To take action against the report or find out how you can support the cause, visit Ausbooks or the Australian Society of Authors.  

For a balanced overview, see this article in The Age. For the flagrant misuse of teen cleavage to sell a lemon, see the front page of The Australian.

5 Responses to “Ozlit forced onto dole queue …”

  1. Bruce Rogers,

    Typical – they are selling the farm in Queensland – now they are selling out the literary sector – we need some big sticks to whack the idiots over the head.

  2. Meg,

    What gets me is Bob Carr has always been Mr ‘User-pays’ – he’s suddenly changed his tune, and with such blatant self-interest.

    I have even resorted to snail mail to express my concerns to my local representitives. I urge all Speakeasy readers to do the same – a letter carries more weight than an email.

  3. Kate Eltham,

    Fantastic post, Meg. This is very serious, and shows a poor understanding of the book sector by the Productivity Commission. Firstly, lower prices are not the likely outcome. We have only to look across the ditch at New Zealand where lower prices did not result from the removal of PIR. Secondly, even if lower book prices could be guaranteed (and even the Commission cautions that it’s not certain), it does not equal more or better competition. It only means that a smaller selection of mass market titles from the US would be cheaper … at the expense of a diverse Australian bookselling sector, small businesses, jobs, oh, yes, and author income.

  4. Robyn Webb,

    I just sent a detailed review to a few MPs. My document is here: http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0Bzeo8YnnOA-VYjllNTUyNjItNGIyYi00OGU0LWI2YTQtNGY4MjM4MThiMjQ1&hl=en

    Basically, the report doesn’t demonstrate that differences in book prices are caused by PIRs in the first place.

    My review is free for downloading, sharing, distributing, referencing etc.

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