Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Farewell, Australian Publishing...

So today the Australian Productivity commission released its report recommending the removal of parallel importation laws for Australian books, effectively removing territorial copyright restrictions that protect Australian writers and publishers, and make it much easier for authors who write specifically Australian content to make some sort of a living off their writing, despite its lack of appeal for the giant US and European markets.

There are a lot of issues at play here. Check out Lili Wilkinson's blog for a good, early response.

The commission has made this recommendation (which sets Australia apart from every other country in the world with the exception of New Zealand) despite the protests of the vast majority of the Australian publishing and writing industry, and seemingly without regard to the long term cultural implications of such a decision.

Speaking as a writer who has never had any great appeal to overseas publishers (of my ten books, all currently still in print with Australian publishers, only one has ever been published overseas, in translation in France) this makes me very scared for the future of specifically Australian writing and content. As the smaller and more local publishing houses struggle to compete with cheap, remaindered stock from overseas (often significantly reworked for the foreign marketplace) it seems to me that there will be little willingness to accept the risks involved in taking on first time writers, or niche writers who deal in Australia-specific content.

It is a sad, sad day for Australian writing.

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