Monday, August 26, 2013

Quebec Considers Fixing New Book Prices to Protect Small Bookstores

Consumers may be asked to pay higher prices to keep Quebec's small bookstores in business.

From The Montreal Gazette:

"Under the scheme, booksellers, whether big-box retailers or hole-in-the-wall independent bookstores, would all have to sell new books for a predetermined price during the first nine months after their release. Retailers that want to put certain titles on sale would be allowed to knock no more than 10 per cent off the price."

Small bookstores saw their business drop this past year while chain bookstores saw an increase. Proponents say this will save independent stores from giant chains and big-box retailers. Mexico and France already have such laws in place.

Some say it will have the opposite effect:

"However, critics say the proposal is not only futile but would actually kill book sales, especially of made-in-Quebec books. 

"Fixing prices and limiting discounts to 10 per cent would result in a 14.2-per-cent drop in book sales, while sales of Quebec titles would plummet by 17.6 per cent, the Institut économique de Montréal warns in a recent study. 

"Some independent booksellers say the measure constitutes undue government interference."

What's your opinion? Should the government interfere in consumer practices? Is this law only prolonging the inevitable?

40 comments:

M.J. Fifield said...

I'm not really sure what to make of this, but, as a general rule, I'm against anything that involves the word "interfere".

Jennifer Shirk said...

No, I don't think they should interfere. I think it's a nice gesture, but they should allow the free market to naturally correct itself. There are always an ebb and flow to businesses. When cars came about, who saved the buggy whip makers? They just adapted.

My small bookstore in town thrives by selling other things besides just books.

Jemi Fraser said...

I think the idea behind the law is nice, but I don't think interfering will work - people will probably head more frequently to e-books

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think government interference is ever a good idea.

Em-Musing said...

Add my name to the list of 'no government interference'. I live in Mexico and didn't know the government fixed prices, but they control a lot of other things like gasoline.

Melanie Schulz said...

I'm not really a big government type of person and that is exactly what this feels like.

Bish Denham said...

I'm thinking most anytime the government gets involved, problems and red-tape and loop-holes arise.

Karen Walker said...

Doesn't sound like a good idea to me, either.

Jay Noel said...

It's a disaster waiting to happen if they do this. Dumb dumb dumb.

cleemckenziebooks said...

I'm a free market kind of person. If we want indie book stores we'll have to find another way to keep them. That's my 2 cents.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Jennifer, the one I visited a few weeks ago survives by selling gifts and coffees.

Leigh, is the gas control for better or worse?

Lee, I'm all for free enterprise, too.

Robin said...

I throwing my voice behind the others... when the government gets involved in private business, disaster is sure to follow.

Melissa said...

I'm with the others. Too much government control is not a good thing.

D.G. Hudson said...

No, the government should not interfere, but Quebec has a history of doing it's own thing regardless of what the rest of the world is doing. . .

If sales drop, what is accomplished. Are we saving the bookstore rather than the authors?

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I don't like it. People always want the best deal. They'll go to Amazon or elsewhere.

xoRobyn

Christine Rains said...

I've not heard of this, but I don't think it's a good idea. I understand wanting to help the small businesses, but there needs to be some other way.

Steven said...

I guess whether you call government regulation "interference" or not depends on your perspective. For example, without "interference" many cars would still not come with basic safety features like traction control and airbags. At the same time, from what I remember from my economics course, price fixing or installing a ceiling usually has quite a negative effect on sales. There are other, better ways to promote home-grown books.

Gwen Gardner said...

It does seem to me that sales would drop - I know I rarely pay full price for a book.

M Pax said...

I'm against price-fixing of any sort.

There's barely a chain in the US anymore. Seems the independents should be making a come back.

Jo said...

Unfortunately I firmly believe book stores are on their way out, not immediately perhaps, but the writing is on the wall. Trying to shore up the bookstores against the trend is really somewhat pointless. Even if people prefer to read a real book as opposed to an ebook, I think the future of book sales is with places like Amazon and others.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Robyn, that was my first thought. If the books are full price locally, people will just shop online for discounted books.

Gwen, that's why I never shopped Barnes & Noble - I wasn't about to pay full price.

Mary, BAM and B&N are about the only ones.

Jo, that's exactly what will happen.

Mark Means said...

Ugh,I guess they don't really understand the whole concept between 'supply and demand'.

Anytime, and mean ANYTIME, you get the government involved in matters like this, they wind up screwing things up and all in the name of "fairness".

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm not a big fan of more government interference. I think small bookstores find their own way to be competitive. I don't think they can compete with the big guys for the bestsellers.

Jan Newman said...

Government price-fixing in private business doesn't sound like a good idea. Some disastrous laws have begun with great intentions.

Karen Lange said...

I understand the reasoning but don't think the government should interfere. Not sure what else could be done to protect the smaller stores, though.

Julie Luek said...

Hate to sound like an echo, but I always think the less interference the better. Let economics play out its course; it usually finds its way eventually.

klahanie said...

Greetings Diane,

From this dog's pawspective, I believe in a free market that dictates the fair price of a book. If the demand for a book is there, it will sell at a fair value price. Yes, free enterprise without government interference. In Quebecois French or English.

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

Denise Covey said...

LOL, L Diane. The government interferes with everything else, why not book prices? Just reading an article today about how Aussie bookstores are thriving and actually continue to open up new stores. Sure, the big fellas have gone - Borders etc, but our Aussie golden oldies are continuing to flourish. We are so lucky!!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I don't think it's necessarily going save the small bookstores. Those stores will have to find their unique way to compete in today's market. Many diversify to do that--as does any small business. If they can't they're out of business. It's easy to blame the big box what-evers for it. But the reality is most people want convenience, variety, and a good price.

No, I wouldn't like the government telling me what I could sell my products for anymore than I'd like them telling me, a consumer, I couldn't take advantage of deals that are available. I don't think it's going to *save* small bookstores.

Most of my shopping is online for many things.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Mark, and life isn't fair - get over it, I say.

Denise, if a small bookstore diversifies, it will survive.

Sia, most of our shopping is online, too.

Maurice Mitchell said...

It's hard to say, but if there's money to be made someone will try it.

J.L. Campbell said...

I understand trying to protect businesses, but I'm not sure how successful it will.

Misha Gericke said...

I studied economics for my degree, and that's taught me to be wary of any price fixing scheme...

Ciara said...

I realize some businesses are in trouble, but sometimes it makes way for new, stronger businesses.

Arlee Bird said...

More government interference is bad. Especially when they are tampering with the free-market economy, they are steering our society away from traditional capitalism. Bad news. The market needs to find more creative means to address the problems they face.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Scribbles From Jenn said...

Mark is right, the government's idea of *fair* rarely is. I also that it's best not to interfere. The free market usually as a way of working things out.

Ella said...

I agree best not to interfere! I think there are other ways to generate interests. Buy so many books, get one free. A bookstore I loved in Maine had a second hand section and the credit earned could go towards new or second hand books. It was very successful! Yes, they had to sort, separate, and make space-but it worked! The kids and I loved it. I would hit yard sales on the military base and score big time. One time I saw a woman had a ton of books and a few kids. I told her about it. She started dragging the boxes filled with paperbacks back in the house. lol

Damyanti said...

Businesses should learn to fend for themselves, period.

Sherry Ellis said...

I don't think the government should interfere. That always makes things worse. And besides that, the government should not have its hand in business enterprises. That's not its role.

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't think the government should interfere.