Resolution on Independent Booksellers

Adopted at 1996 Annual Conference

WHEREAS independent booksellers contribute directly to cultural and political diversity by keeping backlist titles in stock as well as handling experimental literature, materials by new authors, and works that deal with unconventional subjects and viewpoints; and

WHEREAS the vitality and even the existence of independent bookstores are now endangered by unfair and frequently illegal discounts and other subsidies (including discriminatory “remaindering” practices and co-op advertising payments) afforded by major publishers solely to chain bookstores; and

WHEREAS the Robinson-Patman Act, which requires publishers to offer books to competing bookstores at the same prices and on the same terms, has not been energetically enforced by the Federal Trade Commission; and

WHEREAS the American Booksellers Association has undertaken an antitrust lawsuit against several mega-publishers charging them with price discrimination, promotional allowance discrimination, and unlawfully favoring a limited number of large bookstore chains and discount outlets, including warehouse clubs; and

WHEREAS the decline or demise of independent booksellers concentrates undue power--for instance, decisions about what gets published and what doesn't--in the hands of four or five “superstore” chains, resulting in reduced choices for writers, publishers, and readers alike and constituting a form of "economic" or “market censorship” that can only shrink and narrow cultural and political diversity; and

WHEREAS the library profession is firmly and historically committed to promoting a broad and genuine variety of ideas and expression;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1,800-member Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association calls upon the Federal Trade Commission to vigorously and speedily enforce antitrust statutes relevant to bookselling; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Social .Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association expresses its support of the ABA's efforts to gain fair treatment for independent bookstores.

SRRT Newsletter Issue 121, p. 14