Campaign for Cheaper Books!

The Australian Liberal Students' Federation has launched a laudable campaign to remove outdated restrictions to prevent the import of books into Australia leading to us having some of the most expensive books in the world!

Evan Mulholland explains this campaign:

So begins another University year, the time of year where students from all academic areas dig deep into their pockets to purchase their course readers and textbooks.

Academic and reference books in Australia are shockingly expensive; there is a reason for this. The biggest sleeper issue facing Australia’s book industry is its current Parallel Import Restriction regime. This is why the Australian Liberal Students Federation (ALSF) have launched the Cheaper Books Now campaign

Parallel Import Restrictions (PIRs) prohibit the importation of wholesale quantities of books
if territorial copyright is held in Australia. Put simply it is a copyright protection that restricts
importation of cheaper books printed overseas.

In its current form PIRs mean that publishers can charge more for books as they are not
subject to competition. Because Australian publishers are protected from the world market,
it means that competition is diminished, which results in consumers paying more for

As a university student, the cost of text books each year in outrageous. Parallel Import
Restrictions discriminate largely against students, as university bookstores are not able to
source cheaper versions of local editions from overseas, adding up to 30% to the cost of
text books for all students. With the introduction of more student taxes such as the Student
Services and Amenities fee, the cost of going to university is leading to a much higher rate
of student poverty.

This is why I have taken a stand along with the ALSF to create Cheaper Books Now, a project that aims to campaign and lobby government to abolish PIRs on books.

The ALSF have a history of running strong campaigns, successfully lobbying for the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism in 2005. It is hoped we can achieve that same level of success with this very important campaign.

The Australian Liberal Students Federation (ALSF) have launched the Cheaper Books Now campaign, which aims to lobby government on behalf of Students, Retailers and the Australian people to abolish Parallel Import Restrictions on Books in Australia, which would lower the price of books across the country.

The ALSF have a strong history of policy change, having successfully campaigned for the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism in 2006.

ALSF President Christian Street says “It’s outright disgraceful this day and age that the multinational corporations that run Australian publishing houses are profiting off this protectionist royalty scheme, at the expense of students. Students are really feeling the pinch at the start of the University Year, and student poverty is on the rise. It’s just not right that this policy is still in place even when we’ve got a Productivity Commission Report (2009) recommending PIRs be abolished”. Mr. Street has encouraged people to sign the petition at “Australian Bookstores and retailers are struggling, the time for policy change is now, and we will make it happen.”

The Australian Government Productivity Commission released in 2009 concluded, that import restrictions place upward pressure on book prices and that the price effect is substantial, particularly for academic and reference books.

Most of those that are profiting are multinational corporations with Australian subsidiaries,
which choose to invest in our market because there is this protectionist royalty scheme to
make a profit from. These corporations use the protected Australian market to artificially
segment themselves from the world market, gauging royalties that could be passed onto

In 1998 PIRs were removed in New Zealand. This only resulted in a modest decline in
printing industry jobs, at a much slower rate than experienced in Australia while keeping
PIRs. Most significantly, the scare mongering by publishers was proved to be incorrect
as there has been no decline in the number of titles published by local authors, and no
changes in employment in the publishing industry.

It is time for us to stop propping up Australian publishing houses and multinational
corporations under this protectionist royalty scheme, they are the only beneficiaries of
parallel import restrictions amongst many losers, including Bookstores, retailers and
consumers (including students).

There has never been a greater need to abolish parallel import restrictions; it is one of
those policies where you look at the detail and think, why hasn’t this been done yet?
Australian consumers want to support local bookstores, but you can’t exactly blame them
for shopping online to get the same book for half price?
Students deserve better - Sign the Petition now at


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