Australian booksellers fight government move for 'open market'

Australian booksellers fight government move for 'open market'

The Australian Booksellers Association has joined with other Australian book industry organisations to protest changes proposed by the government to turn the country into an “open market” and allow booksellers to import both UK and US titles without restrictions.

Currently, retailers have to wait 30 days after a book is published abroad before they can import it into Australia and then can only do so if an Australian edition is published during that period.

But Publishers Weekly has reported that the Australian government is considering allowing booksellers to import books from foreign territories straight away after the Australian Productivity Commission reviewed existing copyright laws and the book market and found that the prices of Australian books were too high in comparison to similar editions available abroad.

If adopted, the new proposals would give Australian consumers the ability to buy cheaper for cheaper foreign editions, which in turn would likely result in pushing down local book prices.

The move has alarmed the Australian Booksellers Association, which has joined forces with Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Society of Authors, Australian Literary Agents Association and the Print Industry Association of Australia to denounce the proposals.

If brought in, the new rules will also affect author’s copyright protection.

Joel Becker, c.e.o of Australian Booksellers Association, added, “The ABA is working collaboratively with the Australian Publishers Association to explore new options for further improving competitive pricing and the availability of stock for Australian consumers. Both organizations are absolutely committed to the importance of Australian territorial copyright - in providing value, range and quality to Australian readers, and to the crucial long-term value of the industry and our customers