Another blow to local publishers and writers

July 17, 2009 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Late last year, the Productivity Commission sent out a hurried consultation for submissions into its review of parallel importation restrictions on books (PIRs). The PIRs delay the introduction of books printed overseas if the equivalent books are published in Australia within a month of release. PIRs were intended to protect the local printing industry. What’s happened in the years since they were first introduced  is that the protection unwittingly helped to foster an Australian literary culture, nurtured the development of editor/writer relationships and still allowed  independent AND big chain bookstores to stay in business.

Well, pushed by the big chains brandishing dodgy comparison pricing (led by ex-NSW Premier, Bob Carr, the guy who led our state infrastructure into a mess by signing bad deals) the Production Commission released its report recently, and the news isn’t good. The report recommends the abolition of the PIRs within three years, urges the government to subsidise the literary arts (Yeah right!) and a bunch of other stuff.  The report does not even support the the finding that removing the PIRs will get us cheaper books (the purpose of the review). Worse still, it doesn’t see the value of Australian writing as culturally significant!

I haven’t read the full report yet but already the dreaded sinking feeling is there. As we wait for the view of  the Competition Minister, we hope the debate is kept alive.

Final report here. ABC opinion piece here. Review of  report here.

Updated 22/7/09

The PC asked the Office of International Law in the A-G’s Department on five questions about whether Australia author’s books released in Australia could hold at bay international versions of the same book, or international versions allowed in only when the book is not published here first.

The advice from the OiL indicates that to discriminate in favour of Australian writers might be inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations under a couple of trade agreements and the Berne Convention because this would deny the Australia writer opportunity to have their books distributed as widely as possible. Why doesn’t Australia place as much weight on the fact that other countries, namely USA and UK, have their own competition barriers that protect their own publishing industries.

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Entry filed under: Competitions, Literary related news. Tags: .

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Evecho’s newsy bits

News, updates and links from the lesbian and publishing ‘verse that interest me, my current projects, keeping up with authors and sharing musings on middle-class life, gourmet adventures and comparisons between East/West perspectives. My opinions will likely be linearly logical and gayly bent, as they tend to be.