Plain wrong about books

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Kilborn

Sir: Bryan Appleyard's claim ("Blood in the Bookshops", 7 June) that the Net Book Agreement is leading the book trade to disaster does not take account of the facts, or even the findings of the National Heritage Select Committee report. After prolonged and penetrating questioning of publishers, booksellers, authors and librarians, the committee reached the clear conclusion "that there is [no] guarantee that abrogation of the NBA would result in greater benefit to the public than its retention".

Mr Appleyard apparently believes that price-cutting in the shops is the solution to the book trade's ills. However, the majority of publishers and booksellers would argue the precise opposite: that the price war that would follow the collapse of the NBA would be disastrous for the industry, resulting in many bookshops being forced out of business and, in the longer term, fewer new titles, fewer publishing risks taken, fewer opportunities for writers.

Furthermore, Mr Appleyard is wrong to paint such a gloomy picture of the book trade. Despite the recession, which has hit all high-street spending, books sales in the UK grew by a further 5.1 per cent in 1994 to an impressive pounds 2.8bn, and in real terms expenditure on books has increased by 50 per cent in the past 10 years. Not so bad, I would have thought, for a product "threatened with extinction"!

Yours faithfully,

PETER KILBORN

Director of Management Services

The Publishers Association

London, WC1

8 June

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