Book views sought

Digital book production and global online distribution are fundamentally changing the nature of the book industry. In this time of rapid change, the BISG is seeking your view on the future of books in Australia.

The Book Industry Strategy Group are seeking submissions to their study of the future of books. As there are no Librarians or representatives of readers on the Strategy Group, it is important that the views of book buyers be heard.

Australian publishers are continuing to punish paper book purchasers with parallel import restrictions which make books up to a third more expensive than necessary. This hasn’t led to anything but a subsidy for publishers, less books bought and a loss for Australian booksellers as consumers get around the levy by buying from online offshore booksellers.

Now a number of overseas publishers have raised the cost of ebooks on Amazon (and elsewhere) to at or above the cost of a print book. Already there are the issues around DRM which make an ebook impossible to lend or share, or move to another of your own devices, and there is also the problem of some books not being available in some countries due to rights issues.

The publishing industry is seemingly doing its hardest to drive people to online piracy, by not giving consumers what they want – a fair price, fair use and a choice of titles.

When it takes only a few clicks online to freely (and illegally I should say) download pretty much any book in the current bestseller lists (and beyond) this seems like strange behaviour.

The lessons learnt with music, then film and tv doesn’t seem to be applying here. Publishers say that they are working to protect authors livelihoods by their actions. But in reality they are harming all parts of the industry, the writers, readers and booksellers.

The publishers are seemingly missing the fact that they are the weak link in the book industry and as music artists such as radiohead proved you don’t need middlemen anymore, as anyone can now publish and sell online. And in fact large numbers of authors are already doing this, long may that continue.

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