Thursday, July 23, 2009

CHEAP QUALITY BOOKS

In today's Courier Mail, regarding the parallel importation debate, Suzanne Clarke had this to say about the myth of cheaper books:

"Surely the question is which books will be cheaper? The latest Dan Brown and myriad other American bestsellers, or offerings with a lower print run from Australian authors? You can bet we will be bombarded with the former. It's the equivalent of saying an abundance of fast food outlets is a victory for cheaper food."

Here, here. These low quality books will be found at your local giant supermarkets and multinational mega retailers, where you will see the following advertising slogans:

Cheap quality books - the fast food meal of words
Cheap quality books - the drive-through literary experience
Cheap quality books - the take away wrapped in a dust jacket
Cheap quality books - do you want fries with that?

http://savingaussiebooks.wordpress.com/

is the TAKE ACTION blog for those of you who wish to take action immediately against the recommendations of the Productivity Commission re the lifting of The Parallel Importation of Books.

This blog has been started by a group of writers, teachers, parents and readers passionate about supporting the Australian book industry and...

it has a wealth of information, with articles, news items, blog posts, politicians' email addresses and handouts for you to use and pass out to friends, colleagues, family and neighbours.

Go and check it out. Join the campaign to save our Aussie books.

While you're there, leave a comment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

SAVE AUSSIE BOOKS NOW!


I am rather chuffed today. You see my letter to the editor of the Courier Mail was published in yesterday's (Saturday) paper. They gave it an accompanying colour photo, a central position, a major headline and two columns. I'm glad to see that the Courier is open to reporting both sides of the debate.

I am taking action and I encourage you to do the same.

What can you do?

Follow my link to 'Saving Aussie Books' under 'Angela's Places' and there you will find all the email and postal addresses you need to make a difference, plus all the details of the impact the Parallel Importation of Books will have on our book industry and our children's literacy. I am so angry that not only did I email Mr Kevin Rudd, but I sent him a letter too. And it was so easy! Saving Aussie Books tells you how.

For your information I have included my letter to the editor below:

To the editor,

MARKET UP FOR GRABS

The market control that Woolworths and Coles now hold over petrol pricing and groceries will soon be extended to include books. Together with Dymocks, and under the guise of the Coalition for Cheaper Books, they have been lobbying for the lifting of the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books.

By hiding behind this collective name, the 'Coalition' has duped their customers, guaranteeing cheaper books.

There is no guarantee. These retail giants are not obliged to pass on any savings to the consumer. In fact, they have a history of not doing so.

In its submission to the Productivity Commission, Penguin Australia said: "At the moment two of our biggest chains are selling many titles significantly above the recommended retail price."

According to industry sources, Kmart and Target (Coles Group) demand up to 70% discount on the RRP from the publisher. (By comparison the author receives less than 10% of the RRP.) Then these mega-retailers add a few dollars over the RRP.
Does anyone really think they're about delivering cheaper books?
I don't.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Productivity Commission gets it wrong

I am angry! I am amazed... I am at a loss to explain the reasons why the Productivity Commission has failed to take any notice of the 100s of submissions sent to them from concerned Australians .

Instead the Productivity Commission has published its report to the Government recommending that the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books be lifted.

(The current laws state that if a book is written, designed, edited and published by an Australian, an overseas publisher cannot sell their edition of it here. If it is produced overseas, Australian publishers must publish it here within 30 days of its foreign release, or it can be "parallel imported".)

Most at risk from the lifting of these restrictions are Australian published books, specifically children’s books, their readers, and the workers involved in their publication.

For this reason I strongly disagree with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and wish to make the following points:

The USA, UK and Canada do maintain territorial copyright and restrict the parallel importation of books.

Foreign publishers will flood the Australian market with foreign edited versions of Australian books. These are called ‘remainders’. These remainders will undercut the Australian editions.


Small publishers will struggle and close, larger publishers will likely move off shore.


Jobs will be lost in publishing, printing, editing, marketing, distributing, bookselling, writing and illustrating books.


Independent booksellers (30% of the market) will be unable to compete with the multinationals. (Sound familiar?)


Resulting in fewer Australian books being published and our unique Australian culture will be put at risk.


There will be less choice for the Australian reader. The multinational booksellers will decide what they offer us. (Coles, Woolworths, Target, K-mart, Big W, Dymocks, Borders etc. are behind the push for the lift of PIR’s)


Quality Australian books will increase in price not fall, like a fine wine no one can afford.


Publishers will not invest in new talent. ie There will be no one to replace Mem Fox.


Australian children need books that reflect their world, their culture and history.

The effect on our children and students:

Foreign published ‘remaindered’ editions of Australian children’s books will be ‘dumped’ here. These will have been edited with American spelling and idiom. Eg. Ute > Pick-up, footpath > sidewalk, footie > gridiron etc.


With diminished opportunities here, Australian children’s authors will be forced to de-Australianise their writing to suit the global market. Kate Grenville said: “If I had said no, I would never have been published overseas.”


Australian publishers will be unable to afford to invest in new picture books and new authors. Yes, no new Possum Magic.


Foreign editions will end up replacing the Australian editions, as fewer Publishers continue to invest in Australian talent..


Australian children already struggling with reading and spelling will be further confused with the foreign editions.


Australian humour in books will be edited out because the foreign market will not understand our jokes. This will then be sold back to us.

Our children need to develop a strong sense of self and an identity of who they are as Australians. Australian books by Australian authors, which display Australian content with Australian spelling and reflect Australian social and cultural values and indigenous beliefs are one of the few sources still available to them. Young people are already bombarded with more than enough popular American culture and language in the forms of music, movies and food without taking away the only resource left to them which reflects who they are – Aussie books.


Worth reading is the closing address by Richard Flanagan at the recent Sydney Writers Festival www.randomhouse.com.au/editor/documents/richardflanagansydneytalk.pdf). Flanagan says this issue is about Australians' rights and our need to have our own stories in our own voice.

What you can do now:


· Write to Kevin Rudd http://www.pm.gov.au/ and your local member before this becomes law.
Please feel free to use any of the above.


You may also like to read through some of the submissions to the Productivity Commission at www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/books (Two of them are mine)

I have to go now and have a herbal calmative...........fuming steam escapes my ears