No, I'm not talking the National Basketball Association. I'm talking about the Net Book Agreement.
According to Sam Jordison in the British paper,The Guardian, “the net book agreement (NBA) was a cosy arrangement put in place in 1899 to allow publishers to set the retail price of books. The big houses agreed that they would collectively refuse to stock anyone that tried to discount – not that they had to act very often because most retailers thought that the system worked in their interest too.”
This agreement was reviewed by the restrictive practices court in 1962 and declared “in the public interest because it allowed publishers to subsidise works of important – or potentially important – authors.” But by the 1990s the world had changed and after court cases, the agreement was declared illegal.
Jordison claims, “It's probably now harder for good writers to get into print – and definitely harder for them to receive the long-term support from publishing houses necessary to nurture their talent. Literature remains one of Britain's biggest exports – but for how long?”
In the end, he concedes that a call to bring back the NBA is “all pie in the sky.”
Is it better to continue with Costco and Amazon setting the price of books? If you’re a reader, it probably is. Not so much if you’re the author.
4 days ago