Monday, March 23, 2009

If it ain't broke ...

ASA responds to Productivity Commission interim report on restrictions on parallel importation of books

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s a tried and true maxim – and why the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) rejects the findings of the Productivity Commission into restrictions on parallel importation of books. The Commission’s draft report calls for an open market for books 12 months after publication and abolition of the current 90-day rule governing resupply.

“Why in the face of recession would any government accept the wishy-washy changes proposed by the Productivity Commission?” said Dr Jeremy Fisher, ASA Executive Director. “There’s no evidence they’ll produce more Australian jobs or reduce book prices. The system behind Australia’s most successful and self-sustaining creative industry definitely ‘ain’t broke’. The Productivity Commission report proves that. What’s more, even Dymocks Director Bob Carr, who is in favour of removing the restrictions on importation, says ‘business is booming’ even in the face of global financial crisis. So why tinker around with a going concern?”

ASA Chair Dr Anita Heiss commented: “However, we are profoundly grateful the Commission has concluded these restrictions are important to maintaining our national culture. It’s about time our culture was recognised for its own intrinsic value, and we’re not measuring everything as an economic commodity.”

“Now let’s get parallel importation off the table and move on,” Dr Fisher said. “It’s great that our industry has received this attention, but it’s misplaced. What we need now is an industry tribunal or commission that can implement some standardisation – and we’d be interested in seeing that in author-publisher agreements – but can also come up with unified responses to Google and changes in the supply chain”.