Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Net Book Agreement

The Net Book Agreement (NBA) was a British agreement between publishers and booksellers which set the prices at which books were to be sold to the public.

It came into effect on January 1 1900 and involved booksellers selling books at agreed prices. A bookseller who sold a book at less than the agreed price was not given any more books to sell by that publisher.

In 1962 the Net Book Agreement was examined by the Restrictive Practices Court. It decided that if the NBA did not exist the prices of most books would rise and fewer literary and scholarly books would be published.

In August 1984 the Director General of the Office of Fair Trading decided that the Restrictive Practices Court should review the agreement. In September 1995 several major publishers (including HarperCollins and Random House) withdrew, and in September 1996 the Booksellers Association decided to take no part in the case. In March 1997 the Restrictive Practices Court ruled that the Net Book Agreement was against the public interest. It was therefore ruled illegal.

The collapse of the agreement strengthened large book store chains and brought down book prices. The small independent bookshops have been most affected - more than one in ten independent bookshops folded between 1996 and 2001. An early example of the changes in the book publishing markets following the ending of the Agreement was the entry of the US-owned booksellers Borders onto the British high street, following their purchase of Books Etc. It was the first non-British company to enter the UK books market.

External Links