The problem with the debate over parallel imports is that it has, inevitably, pitted the interests of readers, students and academics against the interests of authors, publishers, and well, readers again. As someone who might write books at some point, and who’s worked in the publishing industry, I was very glad to hear that the controversial 2(m) amendment had been dropped. The parallel imports debate is a complex one, and here is a link to old posts on Akhond that cover the entire debate:
Here is a link to a piece in Mint that explains the position from the other side, from the point of view of students and readers:
But much of the debate has ignored the unpleasant realities that drive the publishing industry. The first is that the Indian publishin industry does not operate in isolation; as I and several others have argued, there is no benefit and a great deal of harm in opening up our markets one-way, without being able to access the great souks of the West in an equivalent fashion. The second is that it doesn’t make sense to treat academic and trade publishing as the same kind of beast, and assume that laws that are good for one sector will be good for the other. They operate in very different ways, and part of the problem here is that what might work in the textbooks/ academic sector does not work at all for trade publishing and for mainstream fiction/ non-fiction writers.
I’m relieved that 2(m) has been dropped, but I also hope that this will start a longer and more complex debate on parallel imports, and what we can do to bring better books more cheaply to Indian readers–without killing off what is still an emerging English language publishing industry.