This is not good news:
The Government has decided not to change the Australian regulatory regime for books introduced by the previous Labor government.
Absolute gutlessness. A clear loss for Australians, who will now continue to be discriminated against by local publishers, just because a self-interested lobby group had the ear of enough ALP backbenchers to have their monopoly reinforced. (That lobby group is crowing.)
But even the Government concedes it’s futile:
In the circumstances of intense competition from online books and e-books, the Government judged that changing the regulations governing book imports is unlikely to have any material effect on the availability of books in Australia.
If books cannot be made available in a timely fashion and at a competitive price, customers will opt for online sales and e-books.
The upshot of which will be Australian consumers continuing to abandon bricks and mortar bookselling. By the time the local industry realises what it’s done, it will be – as it was for the music, television and movie industries – far too late.
UPDATE: Guy Rundle, cheering the outcome:
The free trade/hayek/alcan foil hat nuts never acknowledged the real problem of remainders (saying that authors shouldn’t sign up to such contracts is ludicrous — no one offers non-remainder contracts).
Wait, what? We should screw over Australian consumers because US publishers refuse to pay Australian authors royalties on every copy sold? Why? How did this system (of arbitrarily declaring that for some books sold they didn’t have to pay the author) start up in the first place? Why the hell should we accede to this blackmail from the publishers?