Asda challenge to book agreement

Asda, the supermarket chain is mounting a new challenge to the Net Book Agreement, the controversial publishers agreement which fixes the minimum price of most books in the UK.

The company, which has become involved in legal action after discounting 10 titles subject to the agreement, is considering importing books in bulk from the US and parts of Europe.

Asda was ordered by the High Court to stop discounting the books of seven publishers who are all signatories to the agreement.

The Publishers Association which represents most UK book publishers and pursues actions on behalf of those party to the agreement was granted an injunction last month to halt the 20 per cent discounting by Asda.

Works by Mary Wesley and Frederick Forsyth were being sold by Asda for £1 less than the fixed minimum price. Tony Campbell, Asda's training director, said the action taken by the association in pursuing the injunction was a "slap in the face" for its customers who had welcomed the cut price initiative.

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