Parallel Importation sounds like a term from Star Trek, “Begin the Parallel Importation sequence, Scotty, and maybe you can beam me directly to the nearest Dymocks store so that I can initiate the mind f*ck that I have to perform in order to make people believe that cheaper books from overseas equals a more literary society.”

At which point Spock (and the Australian Bookseller’s Association) chimes in, “I apologise Captain, but I do not understand the logic behind your human pranks.”

All those poor Aussie battlers who Dymocks claims need cheaper books must be illiterate to begin with if they haven’t yet discovered their local library. Here’s the thing with the books in libraries: they’re free – they are a public space, and they provide a range of literature that it just isn’t possible to stock in a Dymocks bookstore. This range may include such treasures as Tara June Winch’s Swallow the Air published by UQP; a small university-based publisher which occasionally is able to snap up an overseas title to republish in Australia to make the money that goes back into the budget for publishing the next fantastic local author.

No one is saying that we shouldn’t have overseas authors published in Australia. Diversity of literature is an absolute must if we want to continue being a society that is anything more than self-interested, but here’s the thing: they should be published in Australia, not shipped in on great tankers that are using finite fossil fuels to propel crates of thin-papered novels across an increasingly dirty ocean.  Will overseas authors bother to visit us if they don’t have the contacts of an Australian publishing and publicity team?  And will the importation really be ‘parallel’ with equal numbers of Australian books being sent back on the same dirty great tankers?

Bad guys win, good guys lose, everything goes pear shaped, and then everybody loses.

Thank goodness for the Productivity Commission finding substantial uncertainty with the cultural and economic impacts of the proposed reforms.  After all, it’s a bit ridiculous to boldly go where no Australian market has gone before if we’re just going to hit a black hole straight out of warp speed!