Book Industry COVID-19 Response

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s book industry is acting rapidly.

A lot has wisely been put on hold for the interests of community health and safety. But as bookshops, publishers, libraries and authors – we’re still here to bring books that educate, inform, entertain and inspire Australians.

We want to make sure Australians of all ages are still learning, feeding their imaginations, finding meaning in stories, and still connecting with others – we believe reading and books play a key role in that.

Why are books essential to our wellbeing?

The Government’s immediate priority must be on health and security. But there are other urgent needs that will determine how well Australia recovers from the crisis. Parents need to care for their children: to keep them learning, as well as to entertain and to inspire them. The vulnerable and those living by themselves need protection from loneliness and isolation.

We believe millions of Australians need to be sustained emotionally and intellectually during this time.

Books can help with those needs. We know:

  • Reading books helps combat loneliness and isolation and is powerfully effective in reducing stress
  • Literacy is critical to a child’s future and reading aloud is one of the most beneficial things a parent can do for a child
  • Access to resources affects learning outcomes
  • Reading fosters empathy and social skills

Below, you will find ways that the industry is responding and helping Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Here’s the libraries official response to COVID-19 and their pandemic resource page. Our libraries may be physically closed, but they’re open in spirit and have many resources for people to access online.

As part of a special Books Create Australia agreement, we’ve broadened and removed barriers for accessing online Storytimes.

If you’d like more ideas about what resources you can access from your libraries online, this ABC Life article has plenty of tips and ideas from your friendly neighbourhood librarians.


Here’s the Australian Society of Authors official response to COVID-19 and their pandemic resource page. They’re looking at ways to keep writers working during these times.

The ASA is distributing grants to assist with expenses for authors impacted by COVID-19 with the Writers Benevolent Fund.

They are also calling out for authors to fill out a survey on the COVID-19 impacts on author incomes.


Here’s the ABA’s resources and response to COVID-19.

Consumers have been urged to buy local – as booksellers are quite vulnerable during this time.

If you want information about where your local bookstores are, their opening hours and delivery options are – you can visit this database put together by the ABA and Books+Publishing.

Book supply chains are still running – to ensure our bookstores are stocked up and ready to ship out books to everyone.


The APA has set up a special COVID-19 information and news page – which will be updated regularly.

The Australian Publishers Association is working to help keep the book business running – providing important information to everyone involved in making books, ensuring that cash flow and distribution and supply chains continue.

Working with libraries, authors and booksellers, publishers are promoting books and reading to the Australian public.

It’s amping up the Australia Reads campaign and Books Create Australia to help champion books and reading.

Books Create Australia is currently talking to the government, making sure they know that we love our books – and that we think books are still important and should be supported during this time.

Australia Reads initiative

As an industry, we’re supporting these activities with the #AustraliaReadsAtHome campaign – which is part of the bigger Australia Reads project. It’s here to champion the power of reading and literacy.

The #AustraliaReadsAtHome hashtag can be followed and used to promote the many benefits of reading to those who are going into quarantine or self-isolation. It’s also a great way to keep younger ones entertained if schools are closed.

The Australia Reads festival begins Tuesday 1 September 2020 and culminates with the main event, Australian Reading Hour on Thursday 17 September. Find out more about Australia Reads.

Stay up to date and join the Books Create Australia community

Want to get involved? Want to know more?

Bookmark the Books Create Australia page, follow us on social media, and subscribe to our newsletter if you would like to keep up-to-date with what the book industry is doing during these times.

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For more specific information you can visit these websites:

And as always, stay in if you can, stay safe, look after each other, and stay connected.

We’ll be doing our best to keep bringing you books – we’ll be sharing news about what the book community is doing during these challenging times.

Thanks for supporting us and being a part of it.

Storytime agreement

The Book Industry Roundtable is comprised of the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

All parties of the Book Industry Roundtable believe a reading nation is a better nation and that every child in Australia should have a reading start. They have expressed their willingness to collaborate to help. As part of this collaboration, the Round table parties have agreed to remove uncertainty about the legality of storytimes held outside the library premises.

Reading a picture book to a group of children in a library is not a breach of copyright, but librarians have been uncertain whether library exceptions in copyright law extend to storytimes outside library walls.

To remove doubt, ALIA, the APA and the ASA have made this joint statement:

“The Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Library and Information Association and the Australian Society of Authors share a common goal for all children to be able to enjoy books and stories from the earliest years. Library-run storytimes make this opportunity available to many families, including those without books at home.

“While the Copyright Act enables the performance of a picture book in some circumstances, the APA, the ASA, and ALIA agree on the value of an environment in which libraries are free from doubt and feel confident to run  important early literacy activities such as storytimes both at the library and elsewhere, for example at local festivals or as part of a community playgroup activity.

“It is the policy of the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Society of Authors that its members allow such use without any need for specific permission or payment.”

This agreement does not cover the recording of a book reading, which continues to need permission from the copyright owner.

The agreement on storytimes follows on from an earlier agreement between ALIA and the APA about the use of images of book covers by libraries to promote programs and collections.

This agreement was made in September 2019.

Code of conduct

A code of conduct was developed by the Australian Publishers Association, in association with authors. It sets out the minimum professional and ethical levels of conduct expected of APA members in their relationships with authors.

You can read the full Code here on the APA website.

‘Jolly Postman’ agreement

The Australian Booksellers Association (ABA), Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Australian Publishers Association (APA) and Australian Society of Authors (ASA) have endorsed an industry agreement, which enables libraries to photocopy the removable inserts of children’s activity picture books.

It’s dubbed the Jolly Postman agreement after the iconic 1986 book The Jolly Postman or Other People’s Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg. Parents will appreciate the difficulty of tracking down the tiny inserts at home and the problem is multiplied in a library setting.

This joint statement from the APA, ALIA and the ASA will remove doubt about whether libraries can continue lending the book after copying its removable parts, to avoid children being disappointed by missing pieces.

“The Australian Publishers Association (APA), the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) share a common goal for all children to be able to enjoy books and stories from the earliest years. Enjoyment of activity picture books relies on the inserts being available to every reader. To facilitate this, it is the policy of the APA and ASA that their members allow libraries to copy the inserts and replace them as needed during the borrowing life of the book, without the need for specific permission or additional payment to the copyright owner.’

This agreement follows on from an earlier agreement about the use of images of book covers by libraries to promote programs and collections.

It will include certain copyright agreements where storytimes are held outside the library and in bookshops, and also for the replacement of removable parts for children’s picture books.

The agreement was endorsed by all organisations in September 2019.


Book cover agreement

The agreement allow libraries to use book covers to promote books and authors without seeking copyright permission each time.

The Australian Publishers Association (APA) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) negotiated a landmark agreement to allow libraries to use book covers to promote books and authors without seeking copyright permission each time.

This made it easier for libraries to create displays, posters, websites and social media to promote events that were in effect, promoting the featured books. 

Michael Gordon-Smith, Chief Executive of APA, said: “It’s a simple commonsense approach. Publishers and authors have nothing to lose. They may even reach more readers or make more sales as a result. We’re delighted to be working with ALIA, and to show that we can make things easier without damaging the fundamental property rights of authors or the businesses of publishers. This is the first step in what we hope will be a longer project to improve mutual understanding.”

Sue McKerracher, Chief Executive Officer of ALIA, said: “Libraries, especially public and school libraries, need clarity. We can now use book covers to promote reading without wondering whether we need to seek permission from each individual publisher. It has been a long term problem for libraries and we are grateful to the publishers for their willingness to work together with us on resolving this and other issues to make copyright work for us all.”

The agreement was made as part of the industry’s regular meeting and confirmed in August 2016.