Behind the bulldust….

Get on any number of commentating, opinion blogs, like Crikey.com and the leading newspaper online blogs you’ll find a host of passionate people arguing their corner regarding the proposed lifting of Territorial Copyright on Books.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen such passion lashing back and forward since the days after Princess Di died in that high-speed car crash in France … you remember …

MI5 and the Palace organised it!’  ‘No, it was the paparazzi.’   ‘I swear Arab terrorists are involved!’

Blah, blah, blah. I remember thinking, ‘Why the hell didn’t the silly woman put her seatbelt on at that speed!’

But I digress.

Re the current debate on Territorial Copyright in the online media, you don’t just get reasoned debate, you get name-calling, insults, irrational arguments and abuse.

I’ve been following one of these on Crikey.com – poor Shane Maloney copped a serve, as did Mem Fox – both luckily haven’t replied to the abuse. No point trying to argue with unreasonable, narrow-minded, faceless bloggers.

If you get on to Courier Mail online, be prepared to throw your hat into the ring, have your say and run. Red-neck commentators are out in force – but that’s pretty usual up here in my neck of the woods, in fact, it’s fun to throw a ball in the bull-ants’ nest occasionally.

But, of course, the anti-author brigade aren’t just in Queensland, they’re all over the place.

Why is this? Do Australians think we earn so much money on royalties we lounge in our spa baths drinking caffè lattes as we tap out our next bestsellers on our little Netbooks? That we’re spunging off the poor working man and woman? That the impression I’m getting as I tour the opinion pages.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Authors make as little as 6 – 10% a book and that’s only if the book is sold for its Retail Rec Price at a bookseller. If an author’s books are picked up by the school discount market and distributed that way, they could be facing even less royalties. If the book is illustrated, well, guess what? That (possible) 10% is split in half.

I think it’s imperative to let Australians know the facts otherwise they won’t support attempts to save our industry. If you want to do something to help in a practical way go to the new blog site  SAVING AUSSIE BOOKS

A side issue: People who are so down on authors (and they feel the same about artists and musicians as well) see no value in Creativity.  They see it as a waste of time and of Government funding.  Why do you think this is so?

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2 thoughts on “Behind the bulldust….

  1. Hi Sheryl,

    Great post. This whole parallel importation debacle has cast an ugly grey shadow. It makes me sad to think of the ripple effect it will have if it all goes through. I was thinking today about it all and what the future holds for fledglings like me. What I have to hold on to is my love for the craft and the fact that nothing else makes me feel the way writing does. No one can take that from me – but I’m not trying to make a living from it as yet. I still value that creativity even if others don’t. And I have to keep writing my stories because maybe somehow they will wing their way out into the big wide world one day. And when they do, I hope they drop a big glob of fledgling pooh right in the responsible party’s right eyeball.

    I feel for authors who rely on royalties for their livelihood, and also rely on the protection that parallel importation restrictions have given them. What the PC is proposing is so grossly unfair. As for people who are down on authors. Like you, I wonder where they get their grandiose ideas from – that authors are this elitist crowd who swan around in smoking jackets and frilly brunch coats all day awaiting their muse and being paid obscene amounts of money to do so. Goodness, if only the general public knew the truth of it all. (Though I have been known to swan about in my grubby pyjamas bashing my head against the keyboard begging for inspiration that I am yet to be paid a cent for-does that make me an elitist?)

    I believe people who see creative pursuits a waste of time are merely jealous because they lack that creative force, and so sadly, have no connection with it. Poor them. I cant imagine how boring life must be for those who have no passion for creativity. Whilst they may see it as a waste of government funding, I see them as a waste of a good skin and vital organs that could probably be better used elsewhere.

    Here’s to Aussie Books and their fabulously creative and spirited authors. Long may they live.

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  2. Well said, Sheryl. I’m not sure why it is seen as poor form for me as an author to be defending the $1.25 (or less) I make per book, but not poor form for the booksellers to be trying to increase their $12.50!

    In the end, though, for me the biggest issue is not protecting my income. I am a multi-published author (28 books) but still don’t earn enough to write full time. PIR or not, that is unlikely to change. To me, and many like me, it is the thought that we are no longer going to see Australain stories being told.

    Consumers are being hoodwinked into believing that books will be cheaper, when there is no evidence that this will be the case. The Productivity Commission has admitted that there is no proof that these changes will result in cheaper books. So, if there ARE savings to be had, where are they going to end up? In big business bank accounts of course!

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