Yesterday, it was announced that Federal Cabinet had rejected the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to remove Parallel Import Restrictions on books.
As an author with many author friends, I celebrated this decision. These days, it’s hard enough for an Australian author with few or no ‘published credits’ to have their work picked up. If Parallel Import Restrictions had been removed; allowing the importation of cheap overseas versions of our work, this would have reduced opportunities even further.
Retaining Parallel Imports on books also means that thousands of people in the printing and publishing industries will keep their jobs and that the Victorian town of Maryborough will be saved from complete decimation.
But as a mother and a children’s writer, the most important outcome for me is that our culture and history as expressed through our literature will be protected. My books that are sold in Australia will have mums and taps not ‘moms’ and ‘faucets’.
As a parent of creative children, it is also important to me that there will still be opportunities available for them in this industry if that’s the career path they choose.
Having been deeply involved in the ‘battle’ from start to finish, I feel a sense of relief that this matter has now been resolved and I can continue to go on with my own writing. (Perhaps even start to blog regularly again.)
But I know that none of us can be complacent. We live in a world of changing views and technologies and all of us in the publishing industry will need to work with these new developments, keep fighting the battles that need to be fought, and protect not only our own interests but those of our readers.
One of the most inspiring things about this whole process has been how authors, publishers, agents, printers, booksellers and politicians have worked side by side.
Having been involved in the establishment and running of the Saving Aussie Books blog http://savingaussiebooks.wordpress.com, it has also been my pleasure to come into contact with wonderful kids, parents, grandparents – readers of all generations; from all walks of life who have been united by their love for Australian books.
Who knows what really went on – or what motivated the final decision? What I do know is that so many ‘ordinary’ Australians fought hard for what they believed in. People wrote letters, emailed, phoned and faxed their local politicians – people who admitted that this was something that would not ordinarily be bothered doing.
Supporters from all over Australia got petitions signed and mailed them to Saving Aussie Books and one of our members (Sheryl Gwyther) flew to Canberra at her own expense to present them to the politicians.
Whether all this made a difference, who knows? But I know that it made a difference to me. It made me realise that people in Australia aren’t apathetic – that they will fight for what they believe in – they just have to know how to go about it.
Thanks to each and every person who signed a petition, collected signatures, made a phone call, sent a letter, did whatever they could – cared enough about Australian books to put up a fight.