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.

Libraries

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.

Authors

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.

Booksellers

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.

Publishers

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.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on this website or have some good news to share, fill out this form or please email hello@bookscreate.com.au.

You can also follow us on Twitter for more news.

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.

Australia Reads and Australian Reading Hour

Australia Reads is a cross-industry project to promote and champion the power of reading, literacy and books.

The Australian Reading Hour has become the flagship event of Australia Reads!

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

This week the Australia Reads Ambassadors were announced for this year’s campaign, with Beck Feiner, Anna Fienberg AM, Jacqueline Harvey, Peter Helliar, Will Kostakis and Dervla McTiernan joining forces to promote books and reading.

The current campaign is centered around the #AustraliaReadsAtHome hashtag to promote the many benefits of reading to those who are going into quarantine or self-isolation, or as a way to keep younger ones entertained if schools are closed.

Learn more about Australia Reads, find branding resources and more information on holding your own Australia Reads and Australian Reading Hour events on the website www.australiareads.org.au.

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.

Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers

The Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers (PFABW) is a group that brings together the Australian book industry and government members to celebrate Australian books and stories with the nation’s leaders.

PFABW provides a forum for government members to meet and interact with the Australian book industry – including publishers, authors, librarians, booksellers and print companies.

The group was established in 2017 and celebrated its first anniversary on 18 September 2018.

The latest event was held on 12 February 2019, with keynote speaker, author Trent Dalton.

You can read the report here.

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.

‘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.

 

Certified Trade Mark for Australian books

The Australian Publishers Association is applying to IP Australia and the ACCC to consider a logo and associated Rules of Use for a Certified Trade Mark.

The purpose of the logo is to identify the author and illustrator of the title as Australian. The logo, if approved, will be made available to qualifying publishers to use on qualifying titles across print, ebook and audiobook.

The aim is to promote and celebrate to the public those works that are conceived by Australian creators.

Collaborative work will be done with booksellers, authors and librarians, to disseminate the meaning of this logo that will feature on the back of eligible titles.

All aspects of the administration will be managed by the Australian Publishers Association. Please contact the APA if you have any questions.

Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative

Over 90% of published works globally are inaccessible to the blind or vision impaired.

The Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (AIPI) was launched in 2016 to foster a collaborative, consultative and consensus-based approach to tackling accessibility problems in Australia. Its members include representatives from the Books Create joint initiative and also literary agents, editors, designers, indexers, copyright organisations, disability associations, government and accessible-format providers. It is considered a world-leading approach to finding solutions to the problem of making books more available to those with a print disability.

You can discover more about AIPI on its own dedicated website, which features access to two first of their kind guides – Inclusive Publishing in Australia and Making Content Accessible – and also a number of stories and interviews from people with a print disability or who have services that support their access to books.

The aim of the AIPI is to increase access to published material for people living with print disabilities in Australia. Every year, AIPI meets to progress projects and activities towards its main goals.

AIPI would be very pleased to hear from any parties who are interested in joining the initiative who have a shared vision. Please contact AIPI here. 

Australian Reading Hour

An annual campaign, encouraging people to discover and rediscover the joy of reading. 19 September 2019.

Australian Reading Hour is annual reminder to stop what you’re doing and enjoy reading a book. Research shows that reading is good for us in so many ways: from reducing stress and anxiety to increasing empathy and a sense of identity.

Originally conceived by ALIA, this event has become an industry-wide campaign. Each year we launch Australian Reading Hour at Parliament House. Events all across the country — in bookshops, libraries, and even train stations — celebrate books and reading and remind Australians to #TakeTheTime to enjoy what a book offers.

Australian Reading Hour is always open to hearing from people who would like to take part in the event. Learn more here.

The foundation of the campaign is the research that underpins reading. The committee is open to hearing from any researchers who are operating in this area. You can reach out here if so.