Collapse of Net Book Agreement `within months' collapse' - UK - News - The Independent

Collapse of Net Book Agreement `within months' collapse'

The publishing house Hodder Headline today withdraws from the Net Book Agreement in a move that cuts the price of its books and is widely expected to herald the NBA's collapse.

The agreement, dating from 1899, is a price-fixing deal between publishers and booksellers to protect the wide range published and stocked in shops. It prevents booksellers offering discounts on "net" price books.

The withdrawal of Hodder Headline, following the 1992

decision by Reed Books to denet, is expected by insiders to herald the end. If one more major publisher withdraws - both Random House and Harper-Collins are wavering - it may not survive beyond the summer.

From today the public will be able to test such a prospect with discounts of 20 to 50 per cent in participating bookshops, such as Dillons, on Hodder Headline books including authors like John Le Carre.

According to the company's chief executive, Tim Hely Hutchinson, the agreement is history. "The NBA is crumbling around the booksellers and publishers. If people feel they are just performing a King Canute act they will give up"

The force behind attempts to keep it is the Publishers' Association, which last month launched an appeal to raise £1m for a legal defence. Battle begins in earnest in the spring when the Restrictive Practices Court will re-examine whether it is in the public interest.

The scheduled preliminary hearing comes after the August decision by the Office of Fair Trading to reconsider the issue. Its director general, Sir Bryan Carsberg, will have to satisfy the court that the publishing and bookselling trade has substantially changed since 1962, when it was last reviewed by the Restrictive Practices Court.

Mr Hely Hutchinson is confident it has. "There is much greater domination by chain booksellers and publishing conglomerates. That means the NBA is now existing to prop up the margins of a few strong companies ."

Arguments for keeping the agreement are that supermarkets would otherwise sell large quantities of a narrow range of bestsellers (cheaper without the NBA), cutting bookshop profits and forcing them to reduce their range. Fewer titles would be published, small booksellers would be unable to compete in the discounting wars and go under, print runs would shorten and the price of less popular books would rise to compensate for lower profits on bestsellers.

The opposing camp claims the NBA widens the range of books published, of which much is rubbish. Without it, publishers would be more discriminating, customers would be offered cheaper books and would, therefore, buy more, and literary interest would be stimulated.

Bill McGrath, chief executive of Pentos, owner of the Dillons chain, is among them. He says in the US, which has no pricing restrictions, expenditure a head on books is three times higher.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week