Supporting Australia's book industry

The issue

The book industry is under enormous pressure from the rise of global online retailers and from the introduction of ebooks. It’s hard for publishers and booksellers to find an economic model that works and Australian authors are in danger of being lost in the mass of American content. Furthermore, libraries can’t buy the ebooks their borrowers want to read, at an affordable price and on favourable terms.

Our position

We believe it is vitally important to give local writers and illustrators all the help we can, and we support authors in their efforts to introduce a Digital Lending Right, in addition to the Public Lending Right and Education Lending Right.

We are working with publishers to find ways of making elending in libraries as easy as lending print books.

How libraries support the Australian book industry

  • Australian libraries are book purchasers. They purchase approximately 12% of books. For popular books, libraries buy multiple copies.
  • Australian libraries are a marketing and promotional vehicle for creators and publishers, connecting readers and writers. According to an American study, 20% of library users bought a book after they had borrowed it, and 47% bought a book by the same author after they’d borrowed one of their books from the library. The average library patron in the US was found to buy nine books a year.
  • Australian libraries help create new audiences, through early literacy, family literacy and adult literacy programs. They also help people discover and rediscover the joy of reading, through campaigns such as the National Year of Reading, through book clubs and other community activities.
  • Australian libraries contribute to income generation for authors and publishers in other ways. Author/illustrator tours and visits to public libraries/schools are an important source of fee income for creators, provide direct sales (books are available for attendees to purchase) and promote future sales (increased awareness of an author and their work).
  • Australian libraries support the creative process, with writers and illustrators using library collections as the source for their stories and drawings.

What we are doing

Libraries were behind the National Year of Reading 2012, which saw more than 4,000 events, involving more than 200,000 participants of all ages, in every state and territory. We generated $5.6 million worth of in-kind support and $26 million worth of media coverage and provided the Federal Government with a return on investment of more than $18 for every $1 invested.

Following on from the National Year of Reading, every August libraries run The Reading Hour, promoting literacy and helping people discover and rediscover the joy of reading.

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the formation of the Book Council of Australia, from 1 July 2015, which will include library representatives.

How you can help

Join your local library.

Read books, buy books, borrow books — print or electronic — and especially those by Australian writers, produced by Australian publishers and sold by Australian booksellers.

Be part of The Reading Hour on Tuesday 18 August, 2015. Attend an event or run your own, and tell us about it at fair@alia.org.au so we can promote it for you. 

Share your story

Do you want to tell us about what you did for The Reading Hour or how Australian authors writing Australian stories inspired you? Please drop us a line or post your story on our Facebook page.

Also if you have used one of our tools or suggestions, tell us the results of your actions. For example, if you have written a letter, made comment in the media, or received a response on a issue, please let us know and then we can keep the FAIR community informed via our newsletter.