Friday, July 20, 2007

Supreme Court ruling on prices and how it affects the book industry

On June 28, 2007 the Supreme Court decided (5-4) that manufacturers could adopt and enforce "resale price maintenance agreements." In essence it means that in some cases a manufacturer can forbid discounting.

I think this is an incredibly important issue in the book-selling community with implications for both publishers and booksellers, especially independent booksellers who can't get the same discounts as the big internet retailers. If publishers are allowed to set prices, the independents will not need to compete against discounts they can't match. The publishers themselves will be in a better position to fight discount demands, too.

This affects me personally with a book (Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing by Julie Davey) that is coming out in October. The book, which describes how to use a writing program as part of healing from cancer, will be sold primarily for fund raising for cancer hospitals and cancer research. As such, discounted books on, for example, will reduce the value of the book as a fund-raising tool. My question for you is whether the Supreme Court ruling applies to this book and how I should notify Amazon and others who are selling the book at a discount that they may not do that.

I'm hoping that the various perspectives will provide the best information on how to use this major change in the way the US does business.

Tom Blaschko
Idyll Arbor

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