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German Price Fixing for Books Keeps Bookstores in Business and Book...

The New York Times has a really interesting article about German bookselling. In Germany, there are hundreds of small bookstores that populate the business landscape. The reason for the thriving independent bookstore business is because Germany requires all bookstores to sell books at the same price, without discount.

This anti-freemarket idea is netting positive results: book prices have actually dropped 0.5% in the last year and flourishing independent presses.

The culture, reports the Times, supports this phenomenon in part because Germans place such an importance on books.

If you're a skeptic, you might associate fixed pricing with a German impulse toward conformity and an aversion to traditional haggling cultures. A German will stare blankly at you if you even suggest such a thought. Instead they will stress the special place books have in society.

Via NY Times.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

2 Comments

  1. Katie
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:54:06

    Well, if I might give my two cents worth. I am not from Germany, but we do have the same system in Austria. There are two existing book types for German editions, hardcovers or paperbacks, whereas paperbacks do have the quality compared to your high quality (American) trade size novels. Problem is, it also often costs as much. A (new) Nora Roberts or SEP editions costs around 9€/~11$ which is frankly quite expensive, IMO. On the other side, all those independent bookstores are priceless and I miss them dearly here in Glasgow.

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  2. Li
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 15:59:40

    They used to have something similar in the UK called the Net Book Agreement, which was stopped in 1997. Basically all retailers had to sell books at the recommended retail price.

    My guess is that the removal of the NBA probably hurt bookstores in the sense that the supermarkets now sell bestsellers at heavily-discounted prices, so customers looking for the latest releases are quite likely to pick them up with their weekly shop. I also don’t think Amazon.co.uk would have managed to make inroads into the UK market with the NBA in place.

    Have Googled – slightly more info here:
    http://www.booksellers.org.uk/industry/display_report.asp?id=444

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