Wednesday, 21 December 2016

PIR or "parallel import restrictions"

are in the news again. PIR are supposed to be the saviour of the Downunder publishing industry. 
I'd like to think it was true. I know the former owner of our local indie bookshop is vehemently opposed to the lifting of these restrictions. She is a highly intelligent woman and I prepared to listen to her.
But, is this a battle which will be lost anyway? When the PIR were first put in place things were very different in the world of publishing. Downunder authors expected to send their work to a local publisher, have it considered by a local publisher, accepted by a local publisher. It would even have been printed locally.
Now a would be author pulls a writers' yearbook off the shelf and reads through the appropriate section - only to find that the publishers who accept their sort of work are international businesses. They may have local offices but the reality will be that they work on an international basis. The Downunder "list" will be a tiny part of that. Some authors will simply send their work overseas. Others, usually well known names, have overseas agents.
And there is also the possibility of publishing your own work these days. Computers, the internet, editing services, print on demand services and more, all make it possible. Some of it is good - and a lot of it is awful. The local indie bookshop is good about launches of local, self published books. They weed out the worst of course but what is left doesn't often meet the much higher standards of the professional publishers.
All this does however mean that the idea of books being published here as opposed to overseas is becoming less attractive. In this day of almost instant information, when a story can spread around the globe in less than a minute, people don't want to wait for weeks or months to get a book from their indie bookshop or wait for the library to see if it can be ordered. They can sit at the computer and order it on-line in a matters of seconds. It will be with, Downunder Post permitting, a few days later. 
Good writing should have good publication opportunities but I think we may need to find new ways of that happening. It isn't going to happen by putting PIR in place and hoping that is enough.

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