Sunday, 20 February 2011

I was talking to a 'retired' politician

yesterday. I am not sure that politicians ever retire. They always seem to try and proselytise for whichever party they supported. Their views, even when they do have time to read and reflect, appear to be firmly set in concrete. They have long since been brainwashed by their own parties.
I try not to talk politics with this person. She is perfectly pleasant but I am always aware that our views on many things are not the same.
Nevertheless yesterday we did discuss the demise of Borders and Angus & Robertson as well as the predicament of booksellers in general.
I was surprised to discover that she was apparently unaware that one of the reasons for retaining PIR (parallel import restrictions) had been to save the jobs of about 260 workers in a printing business in Victoria. The union movement had demanded that those jobs be saved. The Federal government, with an eye on a state government election, agreed they should be saved.
I am sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.
That move has now cost at least 2500 jobs in the bookselling trade. It has kept the price of books in Australia artificially high. It has restricted access to a wider range of books in shops and libraries. There has not been any significant increase in Australian publishing or new Australian writing.
A survey recently reported by the UK Guardian showed that James Patterson, Lee Child, Dan Brown, Ian Rankin, Michael Connelly, Karin Slaughter, Maeve Binchy etc headed the list.
I look carefully at the books on the "returned" books on the trolleys in the local libraries. It is useful to know what other people are reading. The same well borrowed books appear there as well.
I asked the ex-politician what she had been reading lately. It was not Australian. It never seems to be Australian.
There is no evidence that PIR actually encourages people to read more Australian literature, not even those who put the policy in place.


Rachel Fenton said...

And yet again, short term symptom relief leads to long term disease damage!

Anonymous said...

Rachel is right, oh so right. The union movement has one hell of a lot to answer for right now - and so does Labor. The rot started back in Whitlam's day - all that money spent on libraries was good but the wrong people were getting the profits and have gone on getting them. Chris

widdershins said...

Those damn pesky readers, choosing who they want to read and not being defined by politicians and borders, the territorial sort that is.

catdownunder said...

Readers are a menace - fancy wanting to read something! If you must read something then you can at least read Australiana - only we do not happen to be publishing any right now. :-(