The Most Hated Book Down Under

I wrote an opinion piece about the issue of Parallel Importation for international publishing news service, Publishing Perspectives. You can read the full text and view the comments the piece received here, but here are a couple of extracts:

Given there are no — I repeat no — definitive figures that demonstrate books are more expensive in Australia than in the US or UK anyway — after one has taken into account the 10% sales tax the Australian Government puts on books and fluctuations in the Aussie dollar — the real story behind this proposal must lie elsewhere … This is really an argument about bestsellers, profit margin and market power …

With the large multinational publishers in Australia shorn of their biggest sellers, one can predict a shift in the balance of power in the Australian book trade — a shift from Big Publishing to Big Retail.

As a small, independent publisher, I’d rather the shift was from Big to Small, but sadly there are no proposals from any think-tank proposing that. Indeed, I seem to be operating in a parallel universe — unacknowledged by the Productivity Commission — in which the retail price of books is set not by how much I can gouge out of the consumer by abusing my exclusive, market-corrupting licenses, but by how much books actually cost to produce and how much margin I have to give away to get them in front of the consumer. Apparently, my sole concern should be how much the US or UK edition is selling for.