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Beyond the Dogma of the Fixed Book Price Agreement

  • Frederick van der Ploeg

After describing the essential features of the book market, a welfare analysisof the fixed book price agreement is given. Allowance is made for theopportunity cost of reading. Theoretically such an agreement pushes up bookprices and depresses book sales. However, more titles will be published,particularly books with low price elasticity and those that take a long timeto read. Potential advantages of better service, distribution and retailnetworks seem less relevant. The book market is one of imperfect competition,but even so the cross-subsidy argument is unlikely to be valid. A qualitativeanalysis of the Dutch situation is given. Tentative conclusions are that oneshould be more concerned about the number of well-stocked bookshops than thediversity of published titles and that debutantes do not face big barriers toentry. One should be even more concerned about the falling proportion ofpeople reading books. Governments fail to set (quantitative) objectives forthe fixed book price agreement, which makes it difficult to evaluate itssuccess and contributes to it being treated as dogma in the book world and thepolitical arena. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Cultural Economics.

Volume (Year): 28 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 1-20

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jculte:v:28:y:2004:i:1:p:1-20
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521586399 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Holahan, William L., 1979. "A theoretical analysis of resale price maintenance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 411-420, December.
  9. repec:att:wimass:9507 is not listed on IDEAS
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