NZ experience proves lifting PIRs does not reduce book prices overall

Angela Sunde

Angela Sunde

Guest blogger:  Angela Sunde, literacy teacher, writer, ex-Kiwi

Parallel Importation Restrictions on books were lifted eleven years ago in New Zealand as a flow on from the era of Rogernomics*, and yet many books have not dropped in price there, especially children’s books.

A hard back copy of one of Lynley Dodd’s famous Hairy Maclarey picture books recently cost me NZ$25 in New Zealand and yesterday I saw the exact same copy in an Australian independent bookshop for A$21.95.

Children’s books in NZ by a Kiwi author are now so rare that they carry a small triangle in the top corner of the front cover stating: ‘NZ author.’

Why do you think this is so?

The NZ Society of Authors and the Book Publishers Assn of NZ sent their own submissions to the Productivity Commission in Australia against the lifting of the PIRs.

Here are the points they made:

  • Lifting PIRs has had a detrimental effect in NZ.
  • The consumer has not benefited from lower prices in the shops.
  • Retailers actively increase the selling prices of books above the RRPs.
  • The chains are also limiting the range of titles they offer.
  • A number of large multinational publishers withdrew their distribution   infrastructure.
  • Resulting in reduced employment within the industry.
  • Local authors receive reduced royalties or no royalties at all on re-imported overseas editions of their works.
  • Overseas publishers supply remainders (especially children’s books) directly to NZ booksellers when local publishers represent those titles.

In spite of these submissions the Productivity Commission’s report states:  The effect of the NZ reforms on book prices, if any, is less clear.  What is clear to anyone who cares to look at the evidence … the children’s book industry in NZ has suffered many setbacks and FOR WHAT?

Have consumers benefited from lower prices? NO, THEY HAVE NOT.


*Rogernomics (Administrator’s note)  The term Rogernomics, a portmanteau of “Roger” and “economics”, was created by analogy with Reaganomics to describe the economic policies followed by New Zealand Finance Minister Roger Douglas from his appointment in 1984. The policies included cutting agricultural subsidies and trade barriers, privatising public assets and the control of inflation through measures rooted in monetarism, and were regarded in some quarters of Douglas’s New Zealand Labour Party as a betrayal of traditional Labour ideals. The Labour Party subsequently retreated from pure Rogernomics. From: Wikipedia


2 thoughts on “NZ experience proves lifting PIRs does not reduce book prices overall

  1. Thanks for this perspective Angela – looks like the un-productivity commission chose to ignore this information when it came to telling the facts about the NZ experience

  2. Thanks Angela. As New Zealand is the ONLY country in the English-speaking world to do away with territorial copyright, your first hand experience is welcome and illuminating. Australian politicians, take heed.

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