Aussie publishers to fight 'open market'

<p>Australian publishers plan to fight any changes to the country&#39;s parallel importation legislation, after the government said it planned to review the law. Australian author Garth Nix has also leapt to its defence describing a possible &quot;open&quot; market as a &quot;surrendered&quot; market. </p><p>According to Bookseller + Publisher, the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and Australian Society of Authors (ASA) plan to run a media and grassroots campaign to fight any changes to the legislation. The legislation, which allows Australian publishers exclusive rights to publish books in their own territory providing they do so within 30 days of overseas publication, is under threat after the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) said it planned to look at the law.<br /><br />The announcement is reported to have caught many in the Australian publishing industry on the hop. Both the APA and ABA said they had been given no prior notice of the announcement, while the ASA said it was &quot;extremely disappointed that any government advice on this matter came to us after a decision had been made to review the parallel importation provisions, not before&quot;.<br /><br />In a letter to the Australian book trade newspaper, Nix warned that an open market would reduce Australian publishers to distributors: &quot;Without the security they need to invest in publishing their top-selling authors, what will most of the bigger Australian publishers be forced to do? Revert to being distributors of US and UK product again, as they mostly were up to the 1970s, and not bother trying to develop and build up an Australian author. After all, why publish someone locally when their book is also being published in the USA and the UK and those editions will come flooding in?&quot;</p><p>He also questioned whether the Australian government was right to be reviewing the law when the US and the UK had been strengthening their respective book copyright regimes. &quot;What is &#39;open&#39; about Australian-published books not being able to be sold in the USA or the UK, but American, British or any other English-language edition from anywhere being able to be freely sold here?&quot;<br /><br />However, despite the strong feelings, some Australian booksellers have welcomed the review. Don Grover, c.e.o. of the Dymocks bookselling chain, said: &quot;As a bookseller, we are hamstrung by the current law in our efforts to provide books to consumers quickly and at prices which are competitive with overseas and online suppliers,&quot; said Grover. &quot;Removal of these restrictions on the importation of books will provide consumers with more choice, faster access and cheaper prices for books. Reform is long overdue.&quot;<br /><br />Last year, the Australian Booksellers Association&#39;s conference passed a resolution to &quot;investigate the impact of an open market and report back to members&quot;, and the ABA&#39;s position is that it supports the removal of parallel importation restrictions, with ABA c.e.o. Malcolm Neil saying that the current legislation does not reflect today&#39;s market.<br /></p>