Australian Society of Authors Petition Against Parallel Importation

The Australian government has announced that it will change legislation to allow parallel importation of books, effectively ending Australian territorial copyright. The government claims this will lead to lower book prices, a claim disputed by publishers and booksellers. The Australian Society of Authors has also described the decision as “wrecking the careers of writers”:

“Allowing overseas publishers to dump remaindered copies of Australian authors’ books published elsewhere onto the local market will undercut the investment of local publishers and reduce pay to our authors. It is self-defeating for the government to introduce a measure that will adversely affect local authors, bookshops and publishers for a hypothetical reduction in book prices,” said ASA Chair David Day.

The government’s decision will be particularly disastrous for Australian authors whose books are published in the US and UK. Australian authors have never earned very much from royalties, with their income further eroded in recent years by online piracy, so this legislative change will hit them hard. If you like reading books by Australian authors and would like those authors to keep writing books, you might like to consider signing the Australian Society of Authors petition against the parallel importation of books.

3 thoughts on “Australian Society of Authors Petition Against Parallel Importation”

  1. I don’t really know anything about Australian publishing but this does seem a very shortsighted policy if it hits Australian writers very hard.

    1. ‘Shortsighted’ is right. This may lead to cheaper prices for some mass-market books by overseas writers, but it will be terrible for Australian authors, publishers, printers and others working in the local book industry, so it’s bad news for those who like reading Australian books. If people who create books don’t get paid much, they’ll produce fewer books and those books will be more expensive and less diverse. I’m not sure the government understands all the long-term consequences of this decision.

      Anyway, if this government really wanted to make books cheaper for Australians, it could reduce or abolish the GST (sales tax) on books – instead, cabinet ministers are now talking about increasing this tax by 50%.

      1. That sounds really bad, at least over here books are still VAT exempt. You could argue that, in the long run, the abolition of the NET book agreement is something that UK publishing and bookselling have never really recovered from.

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