According to a recent article by Lenore Taylor in the Australian newspaper, the Productivity Commission is attempting to save face in the PIR debate by seeking a compromise that would allow PIRs on books to be scrapped 12 months after publication.
Once you explain it to them, members of the public seem to have no difficulty understanding how the publishing industry works and the devastation this will cause, yet the university-educated economists at the Productivity Commission simply don’t get it.
Take my book, Letters to Leonardo for example. Released on 1st July this year, it seems to be doing okay for a first young adult book by an unknown author.
Considering that many first print runs for a first time children’s or young adult author are around 3,500 copies or less, this won’t allow me to derive a whole lot of benefit from that first 12 months that Parallel Import Restrictions apply.
My next book is not due out for at least 12 months, but if that does well, then it’s quite likely that some readers may go back and want to purchase my first novel. If I’m fortunate enough, the publisher may decide at this stage to do a reprint (they usually delay this till the next book comes out).
Under these circumstances, NONE of the books in the second print run will be subject to PIRs.
What scrapping Parallel Import Restrictions twelve months after release date means, is that any books printed after the first release will have to compete with imports from overseas.
From a cultural and practical point of view, removing PIRs after twelve months is not an option.
Even the Productivity Commission scrapped it from their final report. They noted (on page 7.1) of their report that participants had commented that ‘this proposal would create distortions between different genres of books.’ ‘Others thought it would have much the same effect as full abolition of PIRs’.
And practically speaking, how would it work? How could such a policy be enforced? Who would monitor the industry to ensure that overseas editions aren’t brought in until the required 12 months?
It doesn’t make economic, cultural, literary or practical sense. So, why is the “12 month rule” even being considered as a possible compromise?
It’s important that writers, publishers and members of the public keep telling our politicians we don’t want PIRs removed. You can still sign the petition on our site or write to our federal politicians.