Vale Australian text books?
Posted by Lisa Hill on March 29, 2008
Oh dear, it’s depressing to read in Jason Steger’s column (The Age 21-22.3.08) that Australian educational publishing is in trouble. The latest ASA report shows that there are now fewer publishers and that digital publishing is likely to see off the remaining few before long. Falling sales and greater concentration of ownership means that it’s only going to get worse.
Does it matter? Maybe we’ve been a bit self-indulgent expecting the publishing industry to cater for 8 different state and territory school systems , but the books we use to teach our students ought not only to match our own curricula but also reflect our unique Aussie culture. As a self-publisher of Indonesian teaching materials (LisaLearn Press), I know at first hand that there is no global market for such things – so we simply had to publish our own to meet the needs of students. But the market was very small (and made smaller by illegal photocopying) and in the end it simply wasn’t worth the effort for such small returns.
There’s no doubt that it would be good to see the end of kids lugging bulging backpacks full of text books to and from school. However if Australian publishers are going to switch to digital publishing, they’re going to need the support of teachers to prevent piracy.
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