ALP pledges $12 million for national university publishing consortium; announces plans for Book Industry Innovation Council
A re-elected Federal Labor Government will invest $12 million over three years in a national university publishing consortium, called Australian Universities Press (AUP).
Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Kim Carr, said in a statement this week that AUP would be partly funded by Australian university presses, with a re-elected Labor Government to match ‘their financial investment dollar for dollar’. Carr said the government’s contribution is included in the federal budget.
Carr said that the university presses will ‘share resources, infrastructure and funding’ to establish the consortium, which is designed to ‘help academics and students share their work with their peers and the public by providing a new avenue for scholarly book publishing in Australia’. The consortium will include ‘a production platform, a searchable ebook catalogue to improve market exposure and a fund to ensure publicly funded research and writing reaches a much wider audience’.
A spokesperson for Minister Carr’s office told Books+Publishing that under the Labor Party’s plan, individual universities will decide how much they are willing to contribute to AUP, ‘but the Commonwealth’s contribution … is matching funding, so the universities’ contribution will leverage an additional dollar for each dollar they put in to advence their publishing interests’.
While the spokesperson said that ‘there is no formal consortium at present’, they said ‘the government is aware that many universities have been positive about this idea over the last couple of years’. ‘It is important to note that this initiative will benefit all university presses, both the traditional established university presses and the newer e-presses, some of which are library based, and potentially, down the track, the non-university scholarly book publishers,’ said the spokesperson.
‘Too much publicly funded research and writing remains unpublished, or under-exposed, particularly in the humanities, arts and social sciences, and with this initiative we want to bring more of that work into prominence in the public domain,’ said Carr. ‘Not all research suits the format of journal articles and we should take advantage of the digital age, and Labor’s National Broadband Network, to overcome some of these longstanding barriers to production.’
The proposal is similar to one of the recommendations of the Book Industry Strategy Group (BISG), which recommended at the end of 2011 that the government provide $10 million over two years to support the establishment of a National University Press Network. The BISG recommended that the government’s contribution should be matched by $6 million from the university sector.
Carr also announced that a re-elected Labor Government will establish a permanent Book Industry Innovation Council to continue the work of the Book Industry Collaborative Council (BICC), which was established following the end of the BISG process.
‘During a period of significant turmoil in the book industry, Labor has worked with key industry bodies to identify common challenges and come up with strategies to provide practical aid to the whole sector,’ said Carr. ‘A re-elected Labor Government will move this advisory capacity to a more permanent footing by establishing a Book Industry Innovation Council. This body will advise government and continue the productive dialogue between different sectors of the industry that its predecessors have enabled.’
The spokesperson said that membership of the council ‘will be drawn from the major industry representative bodies that contributed members to the BISG and the BICC’. ‘Proper consultation with those bodies will commence very soon after the election to ensure continuity,’ said the spokesperson.
The BICC has previously announced that it would propose the establishment of an industry-led Book Industry Council of Australia (BICA). Books+Publishing understands that the BICA could still come into existence if the Australian Labor Party is not re-elected.
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