Author, Nick Earls spoke out eloquently against Parallel Imports six years ago. His words are as valid today as then....
Cheaper books - it's a great carrot to dangle, but are things really that simple? Australian author Nick Earls thinks not.
First, are books in Australia more expensive than elsewhere? The Productivity Commission worked hard to prove that was the case, but couldn't. In the end they decided that measuring the magnitude of any actual price efforts related to territorial copyright was 'problematic' and in its recent draft report did not 'put a figure on them'.
The entire argument from the Coalition for Big Business (sorry, Coalition for Cheaper Books, ie, Wesfarmers, Woolworths, Dymocks, etc) is that abandoning territorial copyright would make books cheaper, but no one has proven that it does.
If good data existed demonstrating a clear and sustained price benefit, it would need to be weighed against possible detriments. If there is no good data to demonstrate conclusively the benefit of change - as is currently the case - the change should simply not be made.
The fact is that some books are cheaper in Australia, some are more expensive and some cost around the same as elsewhere, and prices vary from book to book, time to time, retailer to retailer and with changes in the exchange rate.
Either side in this argument can cherry pick individual books - and times with exchange rates that favour their case - and wave them in the air in order to make their point, but it doesn't prove a point about an entire industry. Beware of economic rationalists waving Tim Winton novels, and the comparisons they make....
To read the rest of this article, click ABC TV - The Drum July 16 2009