BA accuses Hodge of promoting "unfair competition"

<p>The Booksellers Association has accused culture minister Margaret Hodge of promoting unfair competition by suggesting libraries should consider selling books as well as lending them.<br /><br />BA chief executive Tim Godfray has written to Hodge following her comments at the Public Library Authorities conference last week. Hodge told delegates: &quot;Sell as well as borrow. How about a tie in with Amazon: you&#39;ve borrowed the book, now send a brand new copy to a friend.&quot;<br /><br />But Godfray said today that while libraries play an important role in society, he was concerned about Hodge&#39;s comments. He said: &quot;Booksellers do not enjoy, as do libraries in the public sector, support from the taxpayer and other fiscal benefits in terms of property, occupancy, tax, and VAT concessions that libraries can list in comparison to those enjoyed by booksellers in the private sector. </p><p>&quot;So if libraries start to sell new books in a substantial manner (as opposed to selling off old/tired stock) . . . they would have a competitive advantage over booksellers . . .who pay taxes to support, inter alia, libraries. It cannot be right for Mrs Hodge to promote unfair competition.&quot;<br /><br />He added that the Public Libraries and Museum Act of 1964 &quot;makes it extremely clear to me that library authorities are tasked to make facilities for the borrowing of books and other materials. There is no mention of anything to do with selling books.&quot;<br /><br />Godfray has asked Hodge to clarify her comments and has invited the culture minister to speak to the association after her department publishes its forthcoming modernisation review for the public library service.<br />&nbsp;</p>