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20,000 jobs threatened by book import plan

Thursday, 02 June 2016
By Print 21 Online Article

(photo: courtesy

More than 20,000 jobs in printing, book publishing, writing and retail could be lost under the federal government’s proposal to ditch parallel importation rules, according to a new campaign backed by Australian publishers, booksellers and the PIAA.

‘These changes would not be good for Australian readers or retailers,” says Michael Gordon-Smith, CEO, Australian Publishers Association (APA). “Australian readers treasure Australian writing, and there would be less of it. The idea that there would be consumer benefits from removing territorial copyright is based on outdated data and biased analysis.”

The APA has united with Australia’s leading book retailer group, the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), as well as the PIAA and other organisations that represent people who write, manufacture, publish and read Australian books to launch a new public awareness campaign titled Books Create Australia.

The Books Create Australia campaign condemns the Government’s radical plan to abolish international standards of the book publishing industry that threaten the future of Australian books, said a press release.

The government’s plan puts over 20,000 local jobs in printing, writing, book publishing and retail at risk by removing parallel importation rules and territorial copyright based on out-of-date price data referenced in the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements.

Parallel importation restrictions (PIRs) prohibit importing by booksellers for resale where an Australian publisher has exclusive rights and publishes the title within 30 days of the overseas publication. A bookseller can import an overseas edition from then on but only if the book is unavailable from the local publisher for more than 90 days. Consumers can freely import copies for themselves at any time.

A federal Competition Policy Review report led by Professor Ian Harper has recommended the abolition of all remaining PIRs, including those applying to books.

'No logical purpose whatsoever': writer Tim Winton

“The Americans and the Brits aren’t stupid,” said bestselling author Tim Winton (pictured), who has joined many leading authors in speaking out against the plan. “They’ll keep theirs because to give that up is to set fire to your own house. It’ll be only us doing that. We’ll be the ones putting ourselves at a self-destructive disadvantage, to no logical purpose whatsoever.”

This is the first time that organisations including the ABA, APA, Australian Society of Authors, Australian Literary Agents Association and the Printing Industries Association of Australia are uniting in a public awareness campaign, Joel Becker, CEO, ABA, this week told the national booksellers’ conference in Canberra.

“The ABA is working collaboratively with the APA to explore new options for further improving competitive pricing and the availability of stock for Australian consumers,” said Becker. “Both organisations are absolutely committed to the importance of Australian territorial copyright – in providing value, range and quality to Australian readers, and to the crucial long-term value of the industry and our customers.”

“This industry collaboration is unprecedented,” added Gordon-Smith. “It shows the strength of support for Australian writers and their writing, and it offers a chance to continue improving performance without putting that at risk.”

The Books Create Australia campaign has gained significant momentum since launching last month at the Australian Book Industry Awards. Over 12,000 Australians have signed a petition to condemn the governments plan to abolish territorial copyright, PIRs and move towards a US-style Fair Use system.

More than 1,000 businesses in Australia are engaged in the publishing industry, employing over 4,000 people. More than 20,000 are employed in the broader book industry, which includes book sellers and printers.




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