The Australian government focus group Book Industry Strategy Group issued a report yesterday that included twenty-one different steps that it recommended in order to revive a flailing book industry. According to an article by Suzanne Tindal for ZDNet, the current state of Australia’s book market is in all but chaos, given that the Australian book market has lost $280 million so far this year to overseas markets such as Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo.
Several of the recommendations from the BISG center around technology, both in the infrastructure needed to access ebooks and in the ebook publishing markets themselves. Another feature for Australian reading consumers is the expansion of the existing book search capability TitlePage, which is to be incorporated with print-on-demand services to allow consumers to locate and purchase a book from anywhere.
Some of the items mentioned specifically in the report involve the access to ebooks for consumers, especially in public libraries that currently do not have ebook lending capabilities. At the same time, expanded access to independently published works was deemed important to maintaining a level of competition in the book market.
Copyright issues for digital works were also given specific importance in the report, particularly in regard to how ebooks can be marketed and purchased while avoiding piracy concerns.
In the report, the BISG recommended funding of close to $30 million to incorporate digital editions of textbooks in the education system, a lofty goal that makes Australia another schooling landscape in a long line of many that are working towards ebooks for the classroom setting.
But the overall theme of the report was that Australian book sellers and publishers would need to take steps to counteract the consumers’ online and foreign market purchasing, a running theme in the U.S., where the loss of Borders has been blamed almost entirely on the online retail booksellers and consumers’ switch to digital. In order to maintain the balance of their publishing market, ebooks will need to be shifted to the foreground of book selling.