Novel ways of selling cheap books

George Pitcher says in “Publishing industry drives hard bargain with its novel approach” (MW October 6) that, following the ending of the Net Book Agreement, publishers “could rue the day they effectively passed pricing responsibility to the retailers”. Perhaps, but only if they also pass up what should be the continuing opportunity to brand their authors and themselves.

Total Media works directly for ten publishers and two retail booksellers and has been advising clients of the importance of maintaining branding and not sacrificing all to price. If the market comes down to nothing more than “Catherine Cookson – 2.99” (see Safeway’s recent ad) books will become nothing better than a commodity, and that will not benefit publishers, retailers or the reader.

In practice, we do not believe this will happen because branding will be seen to be as important in this market as it is in the grocery trade generally. In the short term there may be a publishing blood bath as the market sorts itself out, but in the longer term we expect to see media expenditure grow as publishers protect their names and authors against a background of retail price war.

Mike Sell

Managing director

Total Media

London W1

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