I'm back with another bit of discussion, and one that is very important to Aussie readers, authors and publishers. This has been news for over a month now, so you may already be in the know, but it's important to continue talking about it and spreading the word.
The Australian Government is going to ruin the Australian Book Industry.
Changes in importation and copyright laws will destroy our publishing industry and our authors.
The current Turnbull Government has stated it's intention to remove the Parallel Importation Rules (PIRs), which is going to be detrimental to Australian publishers and authors. Currently, the PIRs ensure that is an Australian publisher that holds the rights to a book, gets to publish that title in Australia. Commercial quantities of books cannot be imported into Australia. Sure, we as readers can buy from Amazon and BookDepository, but at the end of the day, distributors must get permission from the Australian publisher in order to import the same book from overseas to sell in Australia.
Similar laws exist in the UK and US. These laws have allowed the Australia publishing industry to thrive and be viable, and allow Australia to produce some fantastic authors, and to ensure that these authors can actually afford to be authors.
By removing PIRs, titles can be imported and sold to Australian readers at an apparently cheaper price. Sure, this sounds great for a reader - cheaper books! But it's not good. Australian authors get reduced royalties and Australian publishers get nothing. Our publishing industry will fall just because the government wants to save readers a few cents or few dollars on a book. There is actually little evidence to suggest that the removal of PIRs will result in cheaper books. The strong Australian publishing industry we currently have will wither, and the number of books published here in Australia will be drastically reduced. Eventually, this could mean bye-bye to our publishing industry.
On top of that, the recent Intellectual Property Arrangements, instigated by the now sacked Joe Hockey, not only supports the removals of PIRs, but also proposes the reduction of an author's terms of copyright. This means that after just 15 years, the work is no longer theirs, they no longer make money off that work, and anyone can reproduce it as their own.
As an Australian reader, it frustrates and saddens me that our industry is under threat. We have phenomenal authors - Marcus Zusak, Amie Kaufman, Jackie French, Jay Kristoff, John Marsden, Tim Winton, Melina Marchetta, Judy Nunn, A.L. Tait, Garth Nix, Kate Grenville, Graeme Simsion, Kate Forsyth, Isobelle Carmody - who have not only told fantastic stories, but many have also told fantastic stories set here in Australia. I love reading those books set here. And don't get me started on the amazing non-fiction work out there, telling the Australian stories that have captivated the country, and even the world. We can't let these authors and stories disappear.
As someone who wants to write, and hopefully be published, it's worrisome that the already hard task of being accepted by a publisher will be even more unreachable to new authors. Why would a publisher, who has been diminished by these stupid laws want to take the risk of publishing a new author? They wouldn't. New Australian authors will have a harder time breaking into the publishing world. They may have amazing stories that are waiting to be consumed by readers everywhere, but our industry won't be able to give them that opportunity.
Our publishers will struggle. Our current authors will struggle. Our new authors will struggle. Our aspiring authors will give up.
And our readers will miss out on what Australia has to offer.
Don't let the government ruin our publishing industry.
What you can do: