Cheaper books for Australia

Lower prices mean more sales. More sales mean more books in Australian homes. Pick an argument with that.

via On the case for cheaper books | The Australian.

That’s Bob Carr, the former premier of the state of New South Wales. The argument for cheaper books in Australia is without a doubt.

I love books. I have been fascinated with reading books from the time I was in my 7th standard.  Till that time it was only school books. My cousin, Vandana, sparked the interest in me for fiction which then translated in non-fiction and the love affair has not stopped.

Coming to Australia I have always been hampered by the high cost of buying books. The universities and the coucil libraries had some good books but for the latest ones (like The White Tiger), I had to buy it.

And it was extreamly expensive to buy one in the bookstores. Checking on the internet it was clear that you could buy it cheaper on Amazon.com or a gazillion other bookstores. A lot of the books where almost double the cost of books available in the US.

My initial reaction was that the bookstores are “robbing” the customers. However, as Carr explains, it is due to a import restriction on imports. All books need to the UK edition which is generally higher than the US one and then add a premium on top of that.

I actually read lesser number of books after coming to Australia due to this. I imported some from Amazon.com but the shipping cost did not make it viable. And add to that the greenhouse emissions.

In December of last year I found Better World. They focus on selling used and new books at Amazon.com prices or better. All profits go to literacy programs around the world and have a international shipping option of USD 4 with carbon neutral provision. This makes it easier to buy and I have been doing that for the last 2 months.

However, there needs to be a better solution.

Bob Carr talks about the question before the productivity commission to stop the restriction on import of cheaper books to Australia.

From the law:

“Parallel importation” refers to importation of products containing copyright material made legitimately in the country of manufacture. Parallel importation of books requires permission from the Australian copyright owner, unless the book was not published in Australia within 30 days of its publication overseas, or the Australian copyright owner cannot supply the book within 90 days.”

The case is not before the productivity commission. The report will come out in May 2009.

What can we do to influence this? Should’nt we have cheaper books in Australia like cheaper electronics, food, furniture, etc.

Update 1: I have created a page on this website for the cause and will try to spread this through Facebook too.

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One thought on “Cheaper books for Australia

  1. Two words: public libraries.

    I haven’t bought a single book in 5 years now (with the exception of 3 I picked up at a book sale for a dollar) when earlier, I used to buy lots of books, as my bookcases would testify. The advantages: no impulsive buying as I used to do before – buy books that sparked my interest and then were left on the bookshelf half-finished (I’m willing to bet that this is quite common among bookworms – if they were to do an inventory, they’d find that a not insignificant percentage of books on their bookshelves have not been read to the finish). Joined a book club at the library – socializing aspect and making friends. I’ve started using libraries which are a useful resource, and it justifies the taxes I pay and my patronising the library helps justify its existence and usefulness. Selective reading – I don’t just pick up books on impulse, but give some thought and discernment to the kind of books I get from the library – more conscious reading with some justification of *why* I’m picking up a certain book. That kind of discipline has done me good.

    Of course, it all assumes that there is an accessible public library where you live. :)

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