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Beyond the Dogma of the Fixed Book Price Agreement

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  • Frederick van der Ploeg

Abstract

After describing the essential features of the book market, a welfare analysis of the fixed book price agreement is given. Allowance is made for the opportunity cost of reading. Theoretically, the agreement pushes up book prices and depresses book sales. However, more titles will be published, particularly of books with low price elasticity and that take a long time to read. Potential advantages of better service, distribution and retail networks seem less relevant. The book market is one of imperfect competition, but even so the cross-subsidy argument is unlikely to be valid. A qualitative analysis of the Dutch situation is given. Tentative conclusions are that one should be more concerned about the number of well-stocked bookshops than the diversity of published titles and that debutantes do not face big barriers to entry. One should be even more concerned about the falling proportions of people reading books. Governments fail to set (quantitative) objectives for the fixed book price agreement, which makes it difficult to evaluate its success and contributes to it being treated as a dogma in the book world and the political arena.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 949.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_949

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Related research

Keywords: book market; fixed price agreement; opportunity cost of reading; diversity; accessibility; competition policy;

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References

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  1. Howard P. Marvel & Raymond Deneckere & James Peck, 1995. "Demand Uncertainty and Price Maintainance: Markdowns as Destructive Competition," Working Papers 018, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Deneckere, R. & Marvel, H.P. & Peck, J., 1995. "Demand Uncertainty and Price Maintenace : Markdowns as Destructive Competition," Working papers 9507, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. Frank Mathewson & Ralph Winter, 1998. "The Law and Economics of Resale Price Maintenance," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 57-84, April.
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  5. Salop, Steven & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Bargains and Ripoffs: A Model of Monopolistically Competitive Price Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 493-510, October.
  6. Throsby,David, 2000. "Economics and Culture," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521586399, October.
  7. Holahan, William L., 1979. "A theoretical analysis of resale price maintenance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 411-420, December.
  8. Howard P. Marvel & Stephen McCafferty, 1984. "Resale Price Maintenance and Quality Certification," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 346-359, Autumn.
  9. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Canoy, Marcel & van der Ploeg, Frederick & van Ours, Jan C, 2005. "The Economics of Books," CEPR Discussion Papers 4892, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. E. Gaffeo & A. E. Scorcu & L. Vici, 2008. "Demand Distribution Dynamics in Creative Industries: the Market for Books in Italy," Working Papers 630, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  3. Frederick Van der Ploeg, 2005. "The Making of Cultural Policy: A European Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 1524, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Perona, Mathieu, 2010. "Bookshop, blockbusters and readers’ tastes: a new appraisal of the fixed book price," MPRA Paper 40308, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 22 Sep 2010.
  5. Juan Jiménez & Javier Campos, 2010. "Modelling Competition in the Textbook Market: Some Lessons still to Learn," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 71-85, March.
  6. Fernández Blanco, Víctor & Prieto Rodríguez,Juan, 2009. "Análisis de los hábitos de lectura como una decisión económica/," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 27, pages 113-138, Abril.
  7. Françoise Benhamou & Stéphanie Peltier, 2007. "How should cultural diversity be measured? An application using the French publishing industry," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 85-107, June.
  8. Productivity Commission, 2009. "Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books," Research Reports, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia, number 34.
  9. repec:pra:mprapa:40306 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Pérona, Mathieu & Pouyet, Jérôme, 2010. "Le prix unique du livre à l'heure numérique," Opuscules du CEPREMAP, CEPREMAP, number 19, May.

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