Scottish booksellers caught up in
independent booksellers are examining their options following the collapse of the Net Book Agreement which fixes the price of books. as supermarkets and the powerful bookshop chains immediately began undercutting industry-agreed prices. Four quid knocked off the price of Booker favourite Salman Rushdie‘s new novel The Moor's Last Sigh was typical of the kind of discounts that were available at the weekend after several major publishers withdrew from the NBA. effectively making it unworkable.
To combat the dominance of the major chains. it has been suggested that independent booksellers could form buying consortia that would give them the bulk-buying clout necessary to secure substantial publishers‘ discounts. ‘This is the way that the smaller bookseller has got to start organising.’ says Willie Anderson. managing director of the John Smith bookshops in Glasgow and president of
the Booksellers' Association. ‘The Scottish Booksellers did something like this a few years ago on a very limited scale with a certain amount of success. But this is going to be a very much more widespread operation and it‘s going to require an awful lot more planning. The Booksellers’ Association is looking at how we can help people in that way.‘
Not everyone is convinced that this is
the way forward for smaller bookshops.
however. Michael Cloughley. the proprietor of Read Books which has two shops in Edinburgh. does not believe that buying consortia will work. ‘Like anything done by committee it would be difficult to administrate and a bestseller for me. would. perhaps. not be a bestseller for the shop up the street.‘ he said.
The demise of the NBA marks the end ofa long tradition in British publishing which has ﬁxed prices of most titles. it was introduced to encourage a wider
., I Salman Rushdie: heavyweight literary novelist sold cheap diversity of books available by guaranteeing a certain profit margin to smaller. specialist booksellers. The idea was that the money brought in by popular writers would help to offset the financial risks of publishing work by i new writers. The fear is that
net book price collapse
supermarkets will now ‘cherry-pick' by offering discounts on best-selling authors like Jeffrey Archer which independents would be unable to compete with.
Many within the publishing industry see the end of the NBA as deeply damaging. Peter MacKenzie.joint managing director of Edinburgh-based publisher Mainstream. believes the changes will be as bad for the customer as for new writers. ‘There is a general public perception that this is a victory for consumer interests.‘ he said. ‘When you take the longer term perspective and. to a certain extent. the cultural perspective within Scotland. then you see that the ramiﬁcations are perhaps detrimental rather than beneficial. Fiction is already struggling in the market but if you are a young author then you are going to find it at least twice as hard. and it was hard before. to get a publisher to take a gamble on you.‘ (Jonathan Trew)
so Oavld Steel: ‘what new world order?’
Lectures look past Europe to the world
Another series of Lothian Lectures by the great and the good of British commerce and politics is to run throughout the winter under the theme at ‘special relationships’. The theme is being illustrated literally in the first lecture in Edinburgh as Eurotunnel chairman Sir Alastair Morton discusses the implications of Britain’s physical link with France (Wed 11 Oct).
Other speakers include Sir David Steel, who asks whether as part of a ‘new world order’ Europe has a role in combating the arms trade (Mon 30 Oct), and President Clinton’s former foreign policy advisor William Orowe, who looks at possibly the most famous ‘special relationship’ of them all - the one between the OS and OK (Tue 7 llov).
Later in the season at lectures Channel 4 news anchor .lon Snow looks at the role of the media in politics (Mon 27 llov) and veteran Independent foreign correspondent Robert Fisk will discuss American and European involvement in the Middle East (Thurs 18 Jan).
Tickets for all lectures are free, reserving a ticket costs £2. Full details are available from ﬁcketline on 0131 220 4349.
American musicians to blow in at new Scotsjazz school
The Scottish jazz scene could be transformed by the new iiational Jazz Institute, modelled on the world famous Berklee jazz school in Boston, which was launched this week. In addition to running certificated courses for student jazz musicians, the longer term plan is to offer full- time degree courses, and to become the permanent home of performing ensembles, including a professional National Jazz Orchestra.
The institute is based at Strathclyde University’s Jordanhill Campus and Edinburgh-born saxophonist Tommy Smith will be its director of music, alongside other Scottish jazz luminaries Bobby Wishart, Russell Cowieson, and Steve Hamilton. Guest artists like vibes maestro Gary Burton and New York-based saxophonist Bobby Watson have also been lined
up. Fiona Alexander ot Assembly Oirect,
Scotland’s principal jazz promoters which already runs jazz masterclasses, welcomed the new school. ‘The lack of proper educational facilities for aspiring jazz musicians has been an embarrassment for too long, and we feel that this will provide a good basis on which to build toward full-time provision in Scotland,’ she said. ‘We believe it is complementary to the kind of things we do, rather than mutually exclusive.’ (Kenny Mathieson)
National Jan Institute classes begin in the llew Year, with the deadline for applications at the end of October. Call 0141 950 3476 for details.
Under-SOs to get cash off theatre tickets
For Scotland‘s established — and some might say establishment — theatres and concert halls. attracting younger audiences is a priority. though sending the right marketing message can sometimes be difficult. Using images borrowed from popular culture has been a recent feature of campaigns to target young people.
For instance Scottish Opera borrowed the classic Sex Pistols out 'n‘ paste cover of Never Mind the Bollocks to promote its difficult contemporary opera Life with an Idiol. while the Royal Lyceum commissioned a Reservoir Dogs-style cast shot for its production of Lao]. Both companies have also taken to ﬂyposting to compete with rock promoters for the wallets and minds of young people.
But a new discount scheme hasjust been introduced in Scotland which may help arts organisations like the Lyceum and Scottish Opera lower the average age oftheir audience. The Stage Pass scheme already has over 40.000 members in England and Wales which entitles people under 30 to chunky discounts on theatre and concert tickets. Ten venues including the Tron. Traverse and Theatre Royal. plus several festivals and touring companies.
have been signed up for the Stage Pass launch this week. For a £9.50 annual membership. anyone between l4—30 is entitled to as much as 65 per cent off a pair oftickets. Discounts of a quarter to a third off are more typical.
“Theatres see it as a long-term investment in the hope that younger people will start attending regularly.‘ says the scheme‘s marketing manager Karen Barnes. ‘The idea behind Stage Pass is to create a clubby feel that young people want to be involved with.‘ The scheme is administered by a London-based charity called Youth & Music. which also sends out a monthly
~i. ’. “zest: Life with an Idiot: punk promotion from Scottish Opera
magazine with details of discounted
productions to‘all members.
The Lyceum has been targeting mainly students’in its attempts to attract a more youthful audience because matriculation cards make a discount scheme easier to administer. According to marketing manager Alex Jessel. Stage Pass now ought to make the theatre more attractive to non-students on low incomes too. ‘lf we get people to start following the Lyceum early. we hope they will stay with us.‘ he added. (Eddie Gibb)
Stage Pass membership is available from the Assemny Rooms. King 's Theatre. Usher Hall in Edinburgh and Tron in Glasgow. or (fall 0345 660352.
4 The List 6-19 Oct 1995