The spectre of Aussie literary blokes being transformed into all-American guys looms large on the Australian literary horizon.  Taps will become faucets; nappies, diapers; and even our dear old Mums will have to answer to Mom if the Productivity Commission isn’t made to see reason.

Its review of copyright restrictions on the parallel importation of books could make overseas versions of popular Australian books the only version we are able to purchase here.

Removing existing copyright protections guaranteeing that books must be published here within 30 days of their overseas release, would open the floodgates to overseas versions of Australian books, swamping a local industry that is already struggling with low profit margins and worsening economic conditions.

Readers, writers and the local publishing industry would all suffer.

Gone are the days when writers being published overseas merely had to contend with Americanization of our spelling.

High profile authors such as Nick Earls and Emily Rodda have gone public with their experiences of American publishers wanting to change everything from setting (the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly being deemed unacceptable for an American audience) to vernacular (Aussie kids asking “Mom” for “cookies”) to omitting scenes (because they don’t “get” our humour).

As Nick Earls told the Productivity Commission: “..it’s important to us as a nation that we keep reading, seeing and hearing our own stories. Children need to grow up with access to Australian stories — stories that speak of places they know, in a language they know, and that validate the world they live in.”

Yet when I checked the Productivity Commission’s website today, only eighteen people have cared enough to comment. Yay for the likes of Kim Wilkins, Nick Earls, Sean Williams and Pamela Freeman. Boo hiss for the rest of us. Time to get our finger out [or you’ll be substituting an Americanism here].

I would love to see my own novel Dust, published overseas. Yes, I would struggle with any changes to the Australian vernacular that is so much a part of the voice, but I would accept that some changes are needed in order to be understood by an overseas readership.

However I could not accept that an internationalized version of my book could be the only one available to readers in my own country, in my own culture, in my own backyard. And I’m going tell that to the Productivity Commission before submissions close on 20 January.


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Comments
  1. You tell ’em, Chris! It’s an important fight that’s been overshadowed by recent financial events, but stopping parallel importation is crucial in many, many ways to having an independent Australian publishing industry. As many people as possible should submit their experiences and views.

  2. Karen B says:

    Oh shite!! I’d loathe to see americanisms in our books here. I’m soooooooo anti americanisms creeping into our culture. If the “creep” keeps up the world will end up being the one homogonised species and we’ll all look like american barbie dolls.
    How do we vote/put our names down etc etc.

  3. chrisbongers says:

    The Productivity Commission website at http://www.pc.gov.au has all the details on how to make a submission, plus you can check out submissions that have already been made. Go Karen!

  4. Well said, Chris – seeing those lonely 18 submissions has spurred me on to send in my protest as well.
    Still writing it – there are so many aspects of this change that will be bad for Australian writing, it’s hard to get your head around it .

  5. chrisbongers says:

    I found it useful to look at other submissions on the pc website and then write from my own personal perspective.

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