The Federal Government has told the book industry in no uncertain terms to come up with a business model that supports the emerging e-book market.
Innovation minister Kim Carr said the Government would establish a new book industry strategy group "to help Australia's $1.5 billion book industry meet the challenges of increased online book sales and grasp the opportunities presented by the emerging e-book market."
"I want to see book printers, publishers, distributors and retailers together in one room collaborating with each other and taking responsibility for transforming their industry in a way that ensures its future sustainability," Carr said.
"I am giving this strategy group a very clear mandate - I don't just want a report, I want a way forward."
Carr said the group would develop strategies to address "the key issues of supply chain integration and developing viable business models for the digital age."
He said the group would operate "according to precise terms of reference and is expected to report back within twelve months."
The move came just months after the Government effectively handed book publishers a lifeline by not relaxing parallel importation restrictions on books, despite a Productivity Commission recommendation.
At the time of the surprise announcement, the Government said that the Australian book printing and publishing industries would "need to respond to the increasing competition from imports without relying on additional government assistance."
In handing down its decision, the Government "judged that changing the regulations governing book imports is unlikely to have any material effect on the availability of books in Australia.
"If books cannot be made available in a timely fashion and at a competitive price, customers will opt for online sales and e-books," it said.