I am a proud Australian author and admit that I have a totally vested interest in the PIR debate…..but doesn’t everyone?
The ‘free traders’ and big businesses behind the push to remove PIRs stand to make more money. All other parties to the publishing and printing process stand to make less.
Hundreds, if not thousands of jobs will be at risk, and printers and some smaller independent bookshops will face possible closure.
If PIRs are removed, my territorial copyright will become worthless, the opportunities for my unpublished writer friends will be few and far between….and my children will have reduced chances of finding employment in this industry. So, why wouldn’t I be worried?
Not only that, but the carbon footprint of bringing all these imports into the country will be huge, and the future of Australian culture as reflected in our literature will be heavily compromised with our readers being forced to consume an American or UK ‘brand’ of Australiana…and perhaps have no exposure to it all.
In US versions of our books, our storybook mums will become moms, our taps will become faucets, and even our native animals will not escape unscathed. Our children will be forced to read about opossums and who knows, our echidna may even become a ‘porcupine’?
As a parent and an Australian reader, this is NOT what I want for future generations.
On Saturday night, I was with a group from Saving Aussie Books who went to the Melbourne Writer’s Festival forum on PIRs at Federation Square – to listen, and to get petitions signed to submit to Canberra.
The panel consisted of Mark Davis (author, academic and chair), Gabrielle Coyne (MD, Penguin), Sandy Grant (publisher, Hardie Grant) David Vodicka (Rubber Records), Allan Fels and Peter Donoughue.
It was a lively debate with publishers clearly articulating, using fact-based evidence, how destructive removing PIRs will be for our industry…with no proven gain for the consumer.
Mr Fels on the other hand was full of vague and sweeping statements which he claimed categorically to be true, all the while shaking the Productivity Commission Report at the audience – almost begging them to believe the truth of its contents.
By Mr Fel’s own admission, ‘Authors are the ones who will be most affected by the changes’, yet he accused us of being, ‘Whipped up by our publishers into a frenzy’.
The only frenzy or panic I saw was Mr Fels attempting to scuttle away from the scrutiny of people wanting to know ‘which vested interests’ were really behind the Productivity Commission’s factually flawed 300 page tome.
In the hundred strong audience, I saw no evidence of authors foaming at the mouth or even closely approaching a frenzied state.
My Sydney-based publisher was not at the forum, and in fact they only knew it was on because I told them; informing them as a matter of courtesy, that I would be in a public place getting petitions signed.
When Mr Fels made his statement about ‘Authors being whipped up into a frenzy’, even my mild mannered husband was forced to exclaim, ‘Authors are smart, articulate people, doesn’t he give them any credit for intelligence?’
Unfortunately, clearly Mr Fels does not. Or is it that he is using this tactic to try and cause divisiveness between authors and their publishers; perhaps he is following a divide and conquer philosophy?
Perhaps, he just doesn’t get our industry at all…I mean let’s face it, in what other industry would you have competitors sitting side by side at public gatherings, genuinely congratulating each other on their successes?
In Mr Fel’s world of high finance, perhaps it’s balance sheets at five paces, slay the competition, put them out of business…at all costs.
I am proud to be part of an industry where authors who are my true competitors are my greatest friends; where publishers, printers, writers, illustrators and literary agents are working together for a very worthy cause…. to KEEP Parallel Import Restrictions on Books.
Yes, authors are riled and outspoken on this issue. Yes, we are appalled at the prospects for our industry and the future of what the Productivity Commission blithely dismisses as ‘cultural externalities’.
But we are doing this because we are thinking people with a social conscience, who care not just about what happens to our profession, but for the welfare of those around us.
If you haven’t already signed the Saving Aussie Books petition which will be presented to Canberra, you can do so now. Go to http://savingaussiebooks.wordpress.com