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- By making books artificially more expensive, this outdated and anti-competitive law is making it harder for kids, especially those from less well-off families to buy and read books.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