Alexander Downer was on the books bandwagon in his column today. His family are readers. He is currently based in Cyprus and has, naturally, sussed out the English language bookshop there. I would have thought that English language books in Cyprus would be more expensive than they are here in Australia. Wrong. They are cheaper.
Something will have to change. Alexander mentions Amazon and Kindle and other electronic possibilities. I have a sneaking feeling we will both always prefer 'real' books, paper and print books that take up endless rows of bookshelf and provide the only worthwhile sort of interior decoration. I have yet to work out how they can have three or four electronic books open at once with a hedgehog of markers at the relevant pages. When I am working that is common place.
That, however, will be the least of my problems if the information is simply not going to be available because, sooner or later, it seems to me there will have to be other sorts of import restrictions placed on us. The government will have to set in place a means to make us pay more for the cheaper overseas books. If they do not then there is no point in leaving the restrictions in place. They will simply be encouraging money to go off-shore.
I went back to the list given to me by the local independent bookshop. I understand their concern. I also know that, given the choice between buying a book for $15 and for $50 then most people will pay $15. They will still expect the indie bookshop to be there but they will not be prepared to pay $50 when they could pay $15.
There have to be answers. Do we reduce the capacity of supermarkets to sell books? They sell a limited range now. Do they really need to sell any at all? Do we institute some sort of central buying authority the way they do for public libraries? That would allow the government to keep what we are able to read in check as well. Hmmm, that might appeal to the likes of Kevin and his cronies.... Do we ask government to do more as a patron of the arts?
There are all sorts of questions and as many answers as there are questions. There is however something that we all first need to consider. If we want to 'save Australian publishing' then we have to have something worth saving. I rather suspect that might be the problem.