Bill McGrath, managing director of Pentos, owner of the Dillons chain, is among them. He says that in the United States, which has no price restrictions, spending on books is three times higher. For those who do not know, the Net Accounting Agreement (NBA) was a comfortable agreement, introduced in 1899 to allow publishers to set the selling price of books. The big houses agreed that they would collectively refuse to store someone who was trying to make discounts – not that they had to act very often, because most retailers thought the system was also working in their best interest. The Tribunal of Agreements reviewed the NBA in 1962, but explained that it was certainly in the public interest because it allowed publishers to subsidize works of major or potentially greater importance. In his final piece, Rosewell explores what the new form of a Net Book Agreement would look like in today`s book publishing and sales landscape. It proposes the 30-day option or an agreement for all suppliers to be offered the same discount on new books for a certain period of time after publication. „Amazon demands a 60% discount for publishers on many titles, which increases the added to being able to sell their books through this route,“ she says. „I would very much like this principle to be respected at the heart of the old NBA: that competition is not to tout others in the market, but to present to the public the creativity and imagination of new authors.“ Last week, in an article on the struggles of the authors of the basic list, I made an ephemeral reference to „the glorious days of the network registry contract.“ A poster called Pikeman didn`t like it. „You`ll excuse me if I don`t see a price deal as something to cry about,“ he wrote. So it seems that not everyone thinks that the destruction of the net book contract was a bad thing.
Although, I find it hard to see why. The scheduled preliminary hearing will take place after the Fair Trade Board`s decision in August to reconsider the matter. Its chief executive, Sir Bryan Carsberg, will have to convince the court that publishers and bookstores have changed radically since 1962, when it was last examined by the Restrictive Practices Court. It came into effect on January 1, 1900 and included retailers selling books at agreed prices. Any bookseller who has sold a book at a price below the agreed price would no longer be delivered by the publisher concerned. In 1905, the Times attempted to challenge the agreement by creating a low-cost book lending club.  On the other hand, Maher had stated that independent booksellers would remain „in a good position“. He said abolition would „expand the market for almost all kinds of books.“ He thought that bookstores would benefit from „secondary purchases,“ even if they earned less with the books they had to reduce. He was wrong. All of this obviously cannot be attributed to the loss of the NBA. But a good portion of that can. For good authors, it`s probably harder to be under pressure now – and certainly harder for them to get the long-term support from publishers that are needed to promote their talent.
Literature remains one of the UK`s biggest exports – but how long? All of this begs the question: Would the public interest be served if something like the net accounting agreement were returned? The collapse of the agreement has strengthened the major bookstore chains and reduced the price of books. It also paved the way for large supermarket chains to take over part of the bookstore, usually a small number of the best-selling titles at discounted prices. Since the end of the agreement, 500 independent bookstores have been closed since the end of the agreement.  An early example of the changes in the book publishing markets after the denunciation of the agreement was the entry of its own American bookseller Borders into the British High Street after the purchase of Books Etc.