March 30, 2009

Keepin’ em out Down Under


Hearings were held recently in Australia regarding limitations on book imports. “After hearing 270 submissions on whether to lift import restrictions on the book industry — an overwhelming majority of them opposing an open market — the Productivity Commission will issue a compromise discussion paper that leaves the status quo essentially intact,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The main advocates for lifting the restrictions were retailers, while publishers and authors called for keeping the protections in place. Currently the commission has tried to reach a compromise. It has “recommended that the restrictions should stay in place, but then come off after a book has been in print for 12 months.”

The Morning Herald quotes deputy chairman, Mike Woods, as saying: “The changes will preserve some certainty for local publishers to market new books. It will help them to continue to promote the established authors and seek out new Australian talent and invest in their development. But the changes will also allow booksellers to seek out and import cheaper versions of ‘back list’ novels, texts and other books, to the benefit of book buyers.”

And for those who weren’t satisfied with the commission’s results, they have promised to review them again in five years.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.