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Andrew Barr goes in to bat for cheaper books

By johnboy 1 June 2009 43

[First filed: June 01, 2009 @ 10:52]

A few months ago I realised that my lifetime habit of buying a book every week could no longer be afforded. With little change from a $50 note for new releases books had moved up beyond discretionary spending for me and into the realm of planned purchases.

It’s not such a big problem for me. I can already read reasonably proficiently. But it must be a nightmare for parents trying to encourage young voracious readers.

Last month Lateline covered the issues. Whereby the local publishing industry considers the high prices a reasonable price to pay for the handful of local authors they encourage.

I reckon this is balls. I would suggest that the national interest is better served by encouraging a million readers rather than paying for the lifestyles of a few dozen authors and Louise Adler. And even without the protection the really good authors like Tim Winton would thrive.

So I’m pleased to see Andrew Barr has announced he’s taking up the cause at next week’s meeting of Education Ministers.

    By making books artificially more expensive, this outdated and anti-competitive law is making it harder for kids, especially those from less well-off families to buy and read books.

    It’s also making it harder for our school libraries to get as many books for their buck as they could.

    Under the Education Revolution we are all working and investing millions to improve literacy and numeracy for kids from low-socioeconomic backgrounds in particular. Any law that makes books more expensive is bad law. Any law that means our school libraries have fewer books available to students is bad law. Any law that effectively makes it harder for kids to read is bad law.


UPDATED: The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury on the other hand is arguing that keeping some local authors and editors employed is more important than having book prices which let us buy books.

    “There has been a push by the big players such as Dymocks, Coles and Woolworths to scrap parallel import restrictions, and while it’s not at all clear that there would be any long term benefit to book buyers, it seems that the big end of town think they would be the winners.”

    “The Australian publishing industry has flourished under the existing arrangements, creating smart economy jobs for authors, editors, publishers, booksellers and printers.”

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Andrew Barr goes in to bat for cheaper books
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Woody Mann-Caruso 9:36 am 02 Jun 09

The Pimply Teen from the Simpsons wrote: “The Australian publishing industry has flourished under the existing arrangements, creating smart economy jobs for authors, editors, publishers, booksellers and printers.”

I’m sure the leather-elbowed cardigan brigade will still buy local. Last time I checked, though, ten out of the top ten spots on the bestseller list were ‘Twilight’, and an Australian with a Masters in Lesbian Goatskin Drum-making in Medieval Latvia didn’t write it.

ant 11:21 pm 01 Jun 09

You can never have too many books. and whenever I think I have enough, there’s Die Hard and Alan Rickman mis-quoting plutarch again and I got off snarling to grab my copy only to find I don’t have THAT particular volume. again. And I resolve to get it, and then forget.

We pay WAY too much for books here, for no good reason.

circusmind 10:48 pm 01 Jun 09

bigfeet said :

Inappropriate said :

I would have thought book writing would be a global market now? What’s to stop an Australian author being published by a US or UK company?

There is nothing to stop them, but the publisher will want to sell the book to the largest audience which is going to be the American market.

So they will have an editor go through the book and change Australian words to American ones (tap to faucet, torch to flashlight, mum to mom, jelly to Jell-O, rissoles to meatloaf etc), alter the spelling to American (colour/color), remove metric references and alter any Australian slang to something that an American reader will understand.

So the printed book that lands back on our shores for sale is no longer recognisable to the author as his own work, and it not in the Australian vernacular.

Books are frequently released in different markets with various adaptations.

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