On 1st July, my debut novel, Letters to Leonardo was released by Walker Books Australia. What a fantastic time it was for me. The Cyber Launch was a blast, the blog tour was a whirl wind, but it didn’t take long to come back down to earth.
Less than two weeks later, the Productivity Commission released its findings on the removal of Parallel Import Restrictions, and since then, I’ve found it hard to celebrate my novel’s release – all I can think about is that the industry I’ve wanted to be part of since I was seven year’s old, is now in jeopardy.
Since the Productivity Commission’s latest report there have been so many lies and misinformation being circulated by the print media on the debate of the proposed removal of parallel imports on books.
Being passionate about books and writing, I have made two submissions to the Productivity Commission and attended the roundtable discussion in Melbourne, but the future plight of Australian authors seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
We are fighting the likes of Dymocks, Coles and Big W, and many members of the print media seem uninterested in accurately representing our story.
The Parallel Import Restrictions currently in place prevent overseas publishers from flooding our market with cheap imports of Australian books. These books are likely to be of inferior quality and would result in little or no income for Australian publishers, authors and printers. USA and UK are currently protected markets so if they want to publish books by Australian authors they purchase the rights from the Australian Publisher and author who receive income from the overseas sales.
This income not only helps support the author (Australian authors earn an average of $11,000 per year) in their difficult quest to make a living, but it also allows Australian publishers to nurture new authors and bring in important works from overseas, thus exposing us to cultural diversity. Industry experts in both the USA and UK have expressed disbelief that we are even considering subjecting our book industry to an open market.
The move to abolish Parallel Import Restrictions is not supported by authors, publishers, printers or most booksellers. It is being pushed by Dymocks, Coles, Woolworths and the chains who stand to make the most profit. They are the ones who will be able to import in huge numbers – thus gaining big discounts.
They will be able to charge discount prices for which the author may earn no income and the local independent booksellers won’t be able to compete – and will go out of business. They will be able to import cheap books that won’t be printed to our high Australian standards.
This is sort of like the current push to put independent service stations out of business. And on the subject of service stations – weren’t we told that petrol prices would go down when self- service came in?
None of this even takes into account the cultural ramifications of putting our publishing industry in the hands of America – a culture that is not the same as ours. Do we want our children to be reading about faucets, moms and opossums?
MISINFORMATION IN THE MEDIA
This the sort of misinformation that the Coalition for Cheaper books is deliberately spreading and some members of the print media are printing it without verifying its authenticity.
|THE MISINFORMATION BEING PRINTED
|That consumers will save $200 million per year on purchase of books if PIRs are removed.(THESE FIGURES HAVE NOT BEEN SUBSTANTIATED ANYWHERE!)
||Even the Productivity Commission agrees that there is no guarantee that prices will come down – and there is no obligation on the retailer to pass any discounts on. In fact, evidence suggests that the reverse will happen if PIRs are abolished – and that prices will go up.
|That authors are self-interestedly disregarding the interests of their readers. That it is greed that is driving our objections to the abolition of PIRs.
||This rumour is being perpetrated by the CEO of Dymocks who earns at least five times as much as the author yet they constantly charge more than the recommended retail price on book. On a $10.00 book, Dymocks earns at least $5.00 while the person who wrote it gets $1.00 and if the book is illustrated, author and illustrator earn 50 cents each.
|That the Australian culture in books won’t be affected.
||It is already proven that when books are printed in the USA the language is changed to suit.Our children will be reading about Moms, faucets and diapers instead of mums, taps and nappies.
|That abolishing PIRs in New Zealand has not had an adverse affect.
||This is so untrue. The New Zealand Society of Authors made submissions to the Productivity Commission asking them not to abolish PIRs because of their own experience of the resultant devastation to the industry.Since PIRs were abolished, book distribution warehouses in NZ have closed down. Publishers and independent booksellers have gone out of business and new authors have struggled to get published.
I have wanted to be an author since I was seven year’s old. For the last twenty years, I have taken whatever work I can that still allows me to write, but for the most part, have been financially supported by my husband who admires my passion for writing and books.
I am not crying poor – I am doing what I love to do – but I want people to know what the reality is for most authors.
And even those successful authors who are earning good incomes and speaking out against the removal of PIRs; they are not doing it out of self-interest – the money doesn’t matter to them – they are doing it to protect people like me – new authors whose careers are at risk before they have barely started.
In July this year, after working for more than ten years on my YA novel, Letters to Leonardo, it was published by Walker Books. This book involved more than 30 drafts, around 2000 hours work and one million words on paper.
Finally, when I feel I am starting to make it as an author, the rug looks like it is going to be pulled from under me. Publishers like mine, won’t be able to stay economically viable by taking risks on new authors like me. To survive they will have to focus on the tried and true – the bestselling authors – the established ones. So what happens to writers like me – who dreamed of being authors all their lives?
What makes me even sadder about all this is that my 10yo is a very talented writer, contemplating the possibility of a similar career, yet how can I encourage him when the jobs just might not be there?
For my ten years work, I will earn under $6,000 if 3,500 copies of my book are sold – and this is a standard print run for a first time author. Dymocks will make at least five times that – and our government will make the same money as I do through their 10% GST.
THE LONG TERM FUTURE IF PIRs ARE REMOVED!
We have seen so many manufacturing businesses move overseas because of economic rationalisation.
Many Australian publishers are owned by overseas companies who could very well ditch their Australian branches if PIRs are removed and it becomes more economical to do everything from their overseas head office. This would not only lead to huge job losses in Australia, but the whole content of our literature would change.
The point is that the people accusing us of greed earn five times as much as we do for what we create – and authors are now copping a lot of vitriol because of the campaign against us by Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper and Don Grosvnor the Dymock’s CEO.
Rupert Murdoch has been pushing the abolition of PIRs in his newspaper, The Australian, yet has failed to declare his conflict of interest – and the fact that he owns organisations who are part of the campaign to get rid of Parallel Import Restrictions.
Dymock’s CEO claims that authors are ripping off the Australian reader, but as a matter of interest, here’s how Dymocks prices compare with A & R on the books that were on the front of The Australian on Wednesday:
|Finger Lickin Fifteen
If A & R can sell them to the Australian public for that price, why can’t Dymocks? Who’s really ripping off the Australian Public?
Don’t believe the propaganda. Do you really think these big companies want to save YOU money on books? Look at the facts and decide for yourself.
If you don’t support the abolition of Parallel Imports on books, write to your local politician. Make your vote count.
If you are not sure who your MP is, or how to contact them, or how to address them etc, look at this website which contains all that info!
or refer http://savingaussiebooks.wordpress.com or http://blottedcopywritersissues.wordpress.com for more information on this issue.