Nov 26, 2015

Publishers try to hold back the tide on parallel imports

Publishers, predictably, want to keep Australia's restrictions on importing books as they are. But savvy customers and e-book sales mean it soon might not matter anyway.

Myriam Robin — Media Reporter

Myriam Robin

Media Reporter

Should Australian booksellers be forced to buy books from Australian publishing houses rather than overseas ones, even if this drives up the price of books? Australia’s publishers still say yes, as they have for a quarter of a century. The issue has been to multiple competition and productivity inquiries, and every time, the industry has fought back.

Currently, Australian publishers bid for the Australian rights to publish books first published overseas, and once they have those rights, any Australian bookstore wanting to purchase commercial quantities of those books is forced to buy from the Australian publisher. This restriction lapses if the publisher doesn’t have copies of the book available within a fortnight, and doesn’t apply to purchasing individual books at the request of customers.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “Publishers try to hold back the tide on parallel imports

  1. wayne robinson

    Is there anyone who still buys carbon based data retrieval units (AKA dead tree books or printed books)? If I want to buy a book by an emerging (or even established) Australian author, I look to Amazon, and in most cases there’s a Kindle edition available for download immediately.

    If not, it might be available through iBooks. Or the publisher will offer an eBook edition as a document (such as Melbourne University Press).

    Unpublished Australian authors can always, if they want, self publish their works, which is the way Andy Weir got attention for his book ‘the Martian’.

  2. Glen

    “American publishers could well say, ‘it’s too small a market, we won’t bother with it’.”

    The twelfth largest country on earth by GDP. Yeah sure, “too small a market”. Roughly similar GDP to California … let’s drop that one too, far too small.

    Plain, simple rent seeking. Go grow some WA potatoes.

  3. MJM

    It’s not the price of the books that concerns me so much as the lousy delivery service. Even when you establish that a book is in print and is available it takes forever to actually have it in your hand.

  4. AR

    WayneR – let’s hear it for the superiority of the portable, solar powered, random access, data storage unit over this elekytrony whizzy stuff.

  5. ken svay

    We all thought that ebooks would spell the end of real books but it seems not. The penetration by ebooks never passed 50% of sales and is now way down. I have a huge collection of real books and I love them but as a traveller I buy mostly ebooks nowadays. I have noticed that the price of ebooks peaked some time ago, I thought that they had become too expensive. Now they appear to be much cheaper, driven by consumer resistance I believe.
    It is heartening to read about the sales figures from Big W, young people are reading more books because parents don’t want their children glued to screens all of the time.
    Hurrah! I am going to Big W tomorrow to buy a Christmas present for my young Chinese mate- a thesauarus. What a grand name for a book.

  6. Benny

    Wayne – think of physical books as carbon sequestration – it’s good for the planet

    Glen – why can I hardly buy anything from Amazon if Australia’s such a valuable market?

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details