Net Book Agreement
At the fascinating talk by literary agent Jonathan Williams at the Writers Centre last night (the world of publishing is nefarious indeed, turns out), the subject of the now defunct Net Book Agreement came up. Introduced in 1900, it was essentially a price fixing agreement between British publishers and booksellers whereby the prices of books were set regardless of what shop shelves they graced. The idea was that any bookseller who sold a book at below the agreed price would then no longer be supplied by publishers. Worked like a charm, too, until the mid-90s when it eventually became outlawed, allowing big chains start charging knock-down prices for books and pushing the smaller, independent booksellers out of the market.
I love a good bookshop, me, a Books Upstairs or a Winding Stair or a Secret Book and Record Store, and it makes me angry to think that they are being put under pressure by the likes of Waterstones or, worse again, Tesco. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were denied the advantage of their monolithic stature and had to give us the same book prices as everyone else? Anyway, don’t y’all have any good bookshop favourites or am I just talking to myself here?