When Professor Allan Fels appeared on a panel at the Open Forum on PIs at the Melbourne Writers Festival on Saturday night and said, ‘Authors are being whipped up into frenzy by their publishers,’ I knew then this man (who is among the group calling for the abolition of Restrictions on PIs) has no real understanding of the issues at all. He appears to view it only from the perspective of a free-marketeer. I wonder if he’ll take notice of what an author says.
An open letter to Professor Allan Fels:
Dear Allan Fels,
Your main claim to fame was your work with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission where you won approval as ‘Australia’s best-known cartel buster and the scourge of price-fixing business and anti-competitive behaviour’. So, being the reasonable person I am, I understand your reasoning behind this apparent enthusiasm for Parallel Imports. But that doesn’t mean you are correct.
You also stated recently that: ‘The claim about dumping (of imports) is just fanciful. The vast majority of Australian books are for the Australian market – they’re not sold overseas. And if you were just saying there’s going to be a substitution of American for UK cultural influences, so what?’
If you had only taken your argument a step further you’d have to admit that if Australian publishers end up cutting back on future publishing programs because of imported books, they’ll restrict their intake of new untried authors and their support of developing authors, and future Australian books, plus retrench Australian workers. Surely not something even you would condone in your relentless seeking of an open-market in everything.
As to your last sentence above? I’ll leave that for others to judge.
There’s another aspect I can’t get my brain around, Professor Fels – you’re also a patron of Creativity Australia, a not-for-profit organization partnering with business, education, health, community and charity groups, government and philanthropists.
Their creed states:
“There has never been a more important time to develop those human attributes which set us apart from machines. We are entering a Creative/Conceptual Age and we require targeted creative programs and leadership engaging with the right side of the brain. By encouraging greater innovation and creativity, Creativity Australia will provide a new and exciting path to personal wellbeing, acceptance, social inclusion and happier and more productive members of our great Australian community.”
The organisation quotes from the work of Lotte Darsø – researcher, consultant, lecturer and author. Her main areas of interest are creativity and innovation as well as Arts-in-Business. “A profound change is taking place in the organisations that are seriously concerned about the future of business and society as they are realising that ‘rational man’ is giving way to ‘artful human’.”
Maybe someone should remind you that creating stories is linked to being ‘artful humans’ too. Ah, well, one should never give up hope.
But back to the ‘frenzied authors’ comment – let me assure you, Mr Fels, we are not being pushed by publishers to take our stand against Parallel Imports. We believe in, and are delighted by the quality books being produced in this country. We are immensely proud of what we can offer readers of every nation not just our own. We are authors who don’t give up on what we believe in.