Embargoed Titles Code of Practice & Embargo Notice

1. Introduction
2. The Role of The Publishers Association and The Booksellers Association
3. The Code of Practice
4. PA Embargo Notice


1. Introduction

The object of this Code of Practice is to improve and simplify the launch of Embargoed Titles across the book industry supply chain to create a more controlled impact on consumers and hence more sales. The prevention of early selling is one method of achieving this object.

Early selling of major titles can undermine the effort of booksellers, publishers, wholesalers and other intermediaries in their attempt to create media and public interest around the Embargo Date. It can also have an adverse impact on the organisation of associated launch events and other commercial agreements such as newspaper serial deals. Publishers place great emphasis on Embargoed Titles and invest substantial amounts of time and money in raising the profile of important titles and building up demand. Early selling can invalidate this marketing spend and the promotional effort put in by the publisher and by those booksellers who abide by Embargo Dates.

This Code of Practice is intended, as a best practice guideline, to prevent early selling by introducing an industry-wide agreement with clear terms and access to information on relevant titles. This should enable all parts of the supply chain to understand their obligations and meet the aims of having a nationwide Embargo Date.

This Code of Practice uses the term Embargo Date to indicate the date on which a title can be put on sale by booksellers to consumers. Only those titles, which have been nominated by their publisher to be covered by this Code of Practice, will have an Embargo Date. The vast majority of titles will not be covered and consequently will only have a general publication date. Titles not covered in this Code of Practice may therefore be put on sale by booksellers on receipt of delivery.

The term Bookseller in this document is taken to include all sellers of books including High Street retailers, supermarkets, Internet and other direct sellers and library and schools suppliers.

This Code of Practice is a joint development between The Booksellers Association and The Publishers Association but is designed to be an industry-wide initiative for the benefit of members and non-members alike. It outlines the practical steps required for publishers, intermediaries, retailers and other suppliers to ensure that Embargo Dates are adhered to and so ensure that everyone benefits equally from the publicity and media interest.

Parties who recognise the benefits of establishing and adhering to Embargo Dates should sign up to Code of Practice.

2. The Role of The Publishers Association and The Booksellers Association
 
2.1 The Publishers Association & The Booksellers Association
  • Any amendment to the terms within the standard Embargo Notice, agreed between The Publishers Association and The Booksellers Association, will be notified to all parties who have signed this Code of Practice.
  • The Publishers Association and Booksellers Association will work jointly, through their members, to encourage non-members to sign up to this Code of Practice.

2.2 The Publishers Association
  • The Publishers Association will endeavour to encourage its members to sign and fully support this Code of Practice.

2.3 The Booksellers Association
  • The Booksellers Association will endeavour to encourage its members to sign and abide by this Code of Practice.
  • The Booksellers Association will host a section on its website dedicated to titles with Embargo Dates (the BA Embargoed Titles Page). This section will contain the full text of the Code of Practice and will be updated on a regular basis with information supplied by publishers. The BA Embargoed Titles Page will be the key source of comprehensive information on Embargo Dates and will be accessible by all parties: publishers, intermediaries and booksellers.
  • All parties will be able to register for email alerts advising of any changes to the status or date of Embargoed Titles.
  • The Booksellers Association will maintain a central file copy of all signed Codes of Practice and will also include a list on its website of all signatories to the Code of Practice.
  • The Booksellers Association will report any alleged early selling or physical display of Embargoed Titles directly to the appropriate publisher.

3. The Code of Practice

3.1 Publishers
  • By signing up on the BA Embargoed Titles Page, Publishers commit themselves to adhering to the principles of the Embargo Notice.
  • Publishers will decide the titles for which they wish to impose an Embargo Date and should limit selection only to those major titles which have sufficient marketing spend, are likely to attract national media and public interest or have a significant national serial deal.
  • Publishers may publish Embargoed Titles on any day of the week.
  • Publishers should not make available e-book editions of the complete text of an Embargoed Title before the Embargo Date.
  • Publishers must notify details of Embargoed Titles - to include author, title, format(s), ISBN(s) and the Embargo Date - at the earliest opportunity (and certainly no later than six weeks before publication) to their key customers, their distributors, the bibliographic agencies, the Booksellers Association and the trade press. Publishers should use the ONIX OnSaleDate element to identify Embargoed Titles.
  • Publishers should endeavour not to change the Embargo Date in under six weeks before publication.
  • Publishers should ensure that the Embargo Date is effectively notified to, and promulgated by, the media when sending out review copies and/or when any serialization rights are sold.
  • Publishers should ensure wherever possible that their distributors use appropriate documentation to ensure that their customers are fully aware of the Embargo Date when the books are delivered, eg notification on invoices/delivery notes, stickers/leaflets on/in cartons etc.
  • Publishers should liaise with their distributors and intermediaries to ascertain the lead times required to ensure that books are delivered sufficiently in advance of the Embargo Date to allow for onward distribution to third parties (trade, institutional and consumer), bearing in mind the requirements of the different channels to market.
  • Publishers notified of any early selling or physical display of titles selected for an Embargo Date will demand that their titles are withdrawn from sale.
  • If, for some overwhelming reason, the Embargo Date cannot be held, publishers should take urgent steps to notify their key customers, the trade and the Booksellers Association that the Embargo Date has been withdrawn and the books can be put on sale.
  • Publishers should consider imposing sanctions against Booksellers who regularly fail to adhere to Embargo Dates and who have previously failed to enforce an Embargo Date on one of its own titles.
  • Publishers may also choose at their own discretion to seek a signed undertaking from Booksellers to abide by specific Embargo Date terms and conditions and advising them of their contractual responsibilities if the agreement is broken.
  • Publishers will provide contact details (including telephone, fax and email) to which all correspondence concerning Embargoed Titles should be directed.

3.2.1 Intermediaries - Distributors
  • Distributors act on behalf of their client publishers and should follow their instructions with regard to Embargoed Titles.
  • Distributors should use appropriate procedures and documentation to ensure that their customers are fully aware of the Embargo Date when the books are delivered, eg notification on invoices/delivery notes, stickers/leaflets in/on cartons etc.

3.2.2 Intermediaries - Wholesalers, Merchandisers & Others
  • By signing up on the BA Embargoed Titles Page, Intermediaries commit themselves to adhering to the principles of the Embargo Notice.
  • Intermediaries will be expected to refer to the BA Embargoed Titles Page on a regular basis to ensure they are aware of forthcoming Embargoed Titles.
  • Intermediaries should endeavour to place orders 12 weeks before publication.
  • Intermediaries should notify Embargoed Titles well in advance to their key customers wherever possible.
  • Intermediaries should contact their customers to ascertain the lead times required to ensure that books are delivered sufficiently in advance of the Embargo Date, bearing in mind the requirements of the different channels to market.
  • Intermediaries should use appropriate procedures and documentation to ensure that their customers, in turn, are fully aware of the Embargo Date when the books are delivered, eg marketing information, notification on invoices/delivery notes, stickers/leaflets in/on parcels, etc.
  • Intermediaries notified of any early selling or physical display of titles before the Embargo Date by one of their customers will demand that the titles are withdrawn from sale.
  • Intermediaries will report any early selling or physical display of Embargoed titles directly to the appropriate publisher and the Booksellers Association.
  • Intermediaries who sign up to this Code of Practice accept that individual publishers may choose to enforce sanctions against them for failing to adhere to Embargo Dates.

3.3 Booksellers - High Street Retailers, Supermarkets, Internet & Other Direct Sellers and Library & School Suppliers
  • By signing up on the BA Embargoed Titles Page, Booksellers commit themselves to adhering to the principles of the Embargo Notice and not to deliberately (or as a consequence of poor internal communication or systems) make titles available for sale prior to such dates (ie early selling).
  • Booksellers are responsible for checking whether a title is subject to an Embargo Date using the BA Embargoed Titles Page.
  • Booksellers should endeavour to place orders 12 weeks before publication.
  • Booksellers accept that publishers may choose to seek a signed undertaking from them to abide by specific Embargo Date terms and conditions for individual titles. Booksellers undertake to deal with these requests promptly and supportively.
  • Booksellers should use appropriate documentation to ensure that their shop floor staff are fully aware of the Embargo Date, eg marketing information, stickers/leaflets in/on cartons/containers etc.
  • Booksellers should consider making it a disciplinary offence for managers if their bookshop fails to adhere to Embargo Dates.
  • Booksellers may advertise Embargoed Titles in advance and accept pre-publication orders, but they must not put the physical book on display or provide the customer with books before the Embargo Date.
  • Booksellers may not despatch Embargoed Titles to consumers to arrive any earlier than the Embargo Date.
  • Booksellers notified of any early selling or physical display of titles before the Embargo Date by them or one of their branches will take immediate action to ensure the titles are withdrawn from sale.
  • Booksellers will report any early selling or physical display of Embargoed Titles directly to the appropriate publisher and the Booksellers Association.
  • Booksellers may not commence early selling of an Embargoed Title unless they have received notification, either directly from the appropriate publisher or via the BA website, that an Embargo Date has been officially withdrawn.
  • Booksellers who sign up to this Code of Practice accept that individual publishers may choose to enforce sanctions against them for failing to adhere to Embargo Dates.
  • Booksellers who fail to sign up to this Code of Practice and who regularly breach Embargoes may find that Embargoed Titles are not delivered to them until the Embargo Date at the earliest.

4. PA Embargo Notice

The Publishers Association (PA)
29B Montagu Street
London
WC1B 5BW
www.publishers.org.uk

Titles listed on the Booksellers Association (BA) Embargoed Titles Page on the BA website (www.booksellers.org.uk) are subject to a strict embargo. By signing up to the Embargoed Titles Code of Practice on the BA website, this Notice automatically applies and you agree that titles covered by this Notice are only being supplied to you before the Embargo Date under conditions of strict confidentiality.

You agree to maintain this confidentiality by observing the following conditions:
  • You will ensure during the embargo period your stock of any title listed on the BA Embargoed Titles Page is stored under the most stringent security provisions possible, that it will be kept in a separate secure area of your warehouse/stockroom (if one exists) and marked clearly "Embargoed", with a notice that copies must not be offered for sale [in your stores] until the end of the embargo. You will notify us immediately on discovery of any breach of this condition, or any unauthorised use or disclosure of such titles.
  • You will restrict information concerning such titles to a need to know basis for the purposes of promotional communication only. All communication will state that this is an "Embargoed Title". In exceptional circumstances where the title is also legally sensitive, a confidentiality agreement will be signed in addition to the embargo.
  • You agree that any breach of an embargo can lead to serious economic loss to publishers and this may result in booksellers or intermediaries being penalised on future Embargoed Titles through withdrawal of advanced delivery, until such time that the bookseller or intermediary can demonstrate compliance to the Embargoed Titles Code of Practice. 

PA Embargo Notice
Dated: 25 June 2007

The Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland 
The Publishers Association