IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Pricing, Sunk Costs, and Market Structure Online: Evidence from

Listed author(s):
  • Simon Latcovich
  • Howard Smith

While online consumers are less concerned than traditional consumers about firm location, they may be more concerned about unobservable quality and, to signal this, online retailers rely more on advertising than traditional retailers. Imperfect price competition may arise because of vertical product differentiation, incomplete consumer awareness, and near-perfect information exchange between retailers. This paper evaluates alternative theories of competition and market structure in online retailing. Advertising, product development, and revenue data for the online book market reveal that consumers respond to advertising and website spending rather than low prices. As the market size expanded, during 1997--2001, these endogenous sunk costs escalated and there was no major new entry. Advertising-to-sales ratios and market-concentration ratios are much higher than for traditional bookselling. Using price and demand information for individual books over a number of weeks, we find counter-cyclical and cross-sectional price variation inconsistent with perfect price competition. Copyright 2001, Oxford University Press.

To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
1. Check below under "Related research" whether another version of this item is available online.
2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 17 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (Summer)
Pages: 217-234

in new window

Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:17:y:2001:i:2:p:217-234
Contact details of provider: Web page:

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:17:y:2001:i:2:p:217-234. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.