yet more on the PIR issue

Posted: November 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

In wake of the decision not to lift Parallel Import Restrictions, Prof Fels has announced that from now on, all book buyers are to blame the government for more expensive prices as a result of the decision not to adopt his recommendations. An unnamed major book retailer has criticised the decision, claiming that adopting them would have lowered book prices by some 12%. I am prepared to wager that this unnamed source was in fact Dymocks, given how strongly they supported the recommendations, which just quietly would have helped strengthen their market share and dominance.

Both Fels and the likes of the Dymocks chain (that I now flatly refuse to purchase anything from) argued strenuously that the only way to bring book prices was the complicated system proposed by Fels, of lifting import restrictions, thereby creating greater ‘competition’ with a system of grant funding to support authors whose income had been reduced.

How about a reality check for a moment? By far the most direct means of producing an immediate reduction of 1/11th of the cover price of books is to dump GST on books. Other products are GST-exempt and such an approach would not require the creation of all new infrastructure that the Fels recommendations would have required.

If these parties crying foul at today’s decision are fair dinkum, then they would have been campaigning for the government to lift taxes on books and achieve the same end result of cheaper books without throwing the equivalent of a wrecking ball through Australian publishing.

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