Friday, February 27, 2009

Hachette backs down

Listen to this link (scroll down to 08.34) for a little bit of publishing history being quietly made. Surely Hachette UK's climbdown on its exclusive deal with Waterstone's for Glen David Gold's Sunnyside (Sceptre) means that it won't be able to make any such arrangement with any chain again without being accused of gross hypocrisy.

CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As far as independent booksellers are concerned there is a danger that publishers like me will pay lip service to supporting independents and use various bandaids to make things better, but are not doing much to stop the economic thing of the big guys gradually crushing the smaller people. And I actually do think that we need to go further in finding more meaningful, more economically meaningful solutions to this issue because we certainly do want independent booksellers to survive".

So what is to be done to protect independents? More discount for them? Lower rents and rates? As ever, these issues throw up all the familiar questions of intervention v the free market. Should the BA or PA step in? Should publishers agree not to make exclusive deals with the chains? Should the UK have something like the Robinson Patman Act? And so it goes on.....

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