LETTER: Support your local bookshops

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The Independent Online
From Mr Ian Wilkes

Sir: There is no such thing as a "bargain" book. All that the largest publishers and the multiple bookshops are doing is simply to admit that most "bestsellers" were overpriced in the first place.

If, for example, a book with a realistically arrived at price of pounds 15.99 is sold by a publisher to a book outlet at 35 per cent discount, the cost to the bookshop is pounds 10.40, giving a "profit" of pounds 5.59. With the Net Book Agreement in its apparent death throes, the bookshop has the choice of either lowering its profit figure or demanding a higher discount. As the Smiths, Waterstones and Dillons of this world are not in business for love, you may be sure that the latter option will be chosen. Sadly, however, the publisher also needs to make his profit, so he will be forced to raise the price to, say, pounds 17.99 and give a 40 per cent discount, which equals pounds 10.80 to the book dealer.

Who benefits from a pounds l5.99 book, repriced to pounds 17.99, being offered as a bargain at pounds 2 off?

The losers are the independent bookshops who cannot demand larger discounts from the publishers, and their customers, who have to pay the extra pounds 2.

The only way to save the good independent bookshop is to borrow the bestsellers from the public library and to support those shops and publishers who still subscribe to the Net Book Agreement.

Yours faithfully,

Ian Wilkes

Romford, Essex

26 September