Some more thoughts on yesterday’s post:
Australia, like New Zealand and Canada and Jamaica and South Africa and many other mainly English-speaking countries, has had a long battle to publish its own stories by and for its own people. The majority of the books we buy and read are not by Australians but come from the UK and the USA. Creating our own publishing industry, which published Australian books was a struggle and to this day many Australian books are subsidised by the Australian government.
But despite all the obstacles and expenses there is an Australian publishing industry and it publishes many wonderful Australian writers. Peter Carey, now an internationally known writer, was first published by the University of Queensland Press. Well-known Australian YA writers like Margo Lanagan, Melina Marchetta, Jaclyn Moriarty, Garth Nix, and Marcus Zusak were all first published in Australia and that’s where they established their reputations. Their success in other markets came later.
If parallel importing had existed when they were first establishing themselves would they have been nurtured in the same way and gone on to the same kind of success?
I also wonder about the writers who are successful at home but have never made the transition to broader markets. What will happen to them under parallel importing? Will they no longer be published at all? Or be published by such small presses that it will be impossible to find their books?
And what about the Australian classics that are rarely, if ever, published or read overseas? Books like Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, Henry Handel Richardson’s The Getting of Wisdom, Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians, Barbara Baynton’s Bush Studies, Sally Morgan’s My Place not to mention the works of Banjo Patterson, Ruth Park and Henry Lawson. What overseas publishing house will be interested in keeping them in print?
It’s also important to remember that those writers who are published overseas have to change their voices in order make sense to non-Australian audiences. As Nick Earls points out in his letter to Prime Minister Rudd against parallel importing, foreign editions of Australian books are not the same as the homegrown edition:
Also, it is common for changes—sometimes substantial changes—to be made before a book is published in an export market, particularly the US. Many Australian references are lost and idiomatic language is altered. These are compromises we make in order to be published in the US, and to communicate specifically with US readers.
Parallel importing must not be adopted.