Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NZ proves lifting PIRs does not reduce the price of books

Parallel Importation Restrictions on books were lifted in New Zealand ten years ago and yet books there have not dropped in price, especially children’s books.

A hard back copy of one of Lynley Dodd’s famous Hairy Maclarey picture books recently cost me NZ$25 in New Zealand and yesterday I saw the exact same copy in an Australian independent bookshop for A$21.95.

Children's books in NZ by a NZ author are now so rare that they carry a small triangle in the top corner of the front cover stating: ‘NZ author.’

Why do you think this is so?

Well, the NZ Society of Authors and the Book Publishers Assn of NZ sent their own submissions to the Productivity Commission in Australia against the lifting of the PIRs. Here are the points they made:

"Lifting PIRs has had a detrimental effect in NZ."
“The consumer has not benefitted from lower prices in the shops.”
“Retailers actively increase the selling prices of books above the RRPs.”
“The chains are also limiting the range of titles they offer.”
“A number of large multinational publishers withdrew their distribution infrastructure.”
“Resulting in reduced employment within the industry.”
“Local authors receive reduced royalties or no royalties at all on re-imported overseas editions of their works.”
“Overseas publishers supply remainders (especially children’s books) directly to NZ booksellers when local publishers represent those titles.”

In spite of these submissions the Productivity Commission’s report states:
“The effect of the NZ reforms on book prices, if any, is less clear.”

What is clear is that the children’s book industry in NZ has suffered the most.

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