Government-funded group lays out “survival blueprint” for the book printing industry

The report was commissioned by the government-funded industry-wide strategy group whose members included McPherson’s Printing Group chief executive Alan Fahy and former PIAA head Philip Anderson.

Suggestions included establishing a reform council, abolishing GST on books purchased in Australia, reviewing postage cost, reducing territorial copyright timeframes and encouraging local business through government grants.

Presented to Innovation Minister Kim Carr earlier this week, the report noted that a “convergence of negative influences” is affecting book sales in Australia.

The report added that these negative influences, in conjunction with local publishers switching to importing on the back of the high Australian dollar, have left the book printing sector in a “potentially parlous state”.

PIAA chief executive Bill Healy described the report as the “blueprint to help the survival of an important part of the printing industry”.

“We are encouraged by the fact the report acknowledges the government support of the Australian book industry, and that it sees it not just a commodity but as a fundamental part of our culture,” he said.

“The future of ebooks in one way looks threatening because they are rising so quickly, but what it also shows is that there is going to be a place for books in our society, including printed books.”

Healy added that the recommendation for an industry-wide voluntary code of practice to “reduce the timeframe for retention of territorial copyright” from 30 days for new books and 90 days for reprints to 14 days for both would benefit Australian book printers.

“The timeframe reduction would mean that the faster turn-around times will encourage publishers to print more work onshore,” he said.

Alan Fahy told ProPrint that the next step is to wait for the government’s response.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” he said.

“The report is quite complex and it is focused on the entire supply chain, obviously I was very interested in the printing section, but you have to take a holistic view with the survival of the book industry.”


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