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Why are there fixed book prices in Germany?

Question by Guest | 05/10/2016 at 18:12

In Germany, each baker is allowed to determine the price of his bread as he wants. Each car dealer is also allowed to specify the prices of his choice, even each clothing retailer can make some bargains out of his offers when he wants to do so.

However, the bookseller in Germany is not allowed to do all of this. Namely, there is a fixed book price principle in Germany because of the Fixed Book Price Law. This law is something like a book price agreement that ensures the book price maintenance.

However, why is this necessary? Why are the book prices uniformly defined in Germany? As far as I know, there is no law like that in any other country around the world. Why is it not possible to make some special prices for books at a German bookstore?

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The price-fixing or price binding for books was invited to maintain books as "cultural assets" in Germany and to ensure that books are not sold in accordance with the free market economy. Books should not be given the same status like each other freely tradable good.

The publishing houses should always be able to calculate with a specific amount per book, even bestsellers should be purchased for the highest price everywhere. This should protect the smaller and more petty books. It should be ensured that the bestseller can co-finance the other books.

Additionally, the law should help to keep and beware the smaller bookstores which otherwise have to compete with the big ones due to their prizes. This is to ensure that all people have access to books even if they are living in a small village.

Of course, whether this is so contemporary or whether there also should be some other branches worthy of protection is another story and a matter of opinion. By the way, the fixed book price agreement is already there since the German Empire a long time ago.
06/10/2016 at 11:45

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The fixed book price principle should protect small publishers and bookstores. It should retain the variety of the book market. In countries in which a similar regulation was abolished, the following happened:

For the publishing companies, only the bestsellers were profitable, with all the other books no money could be made any more. But even when purchasing the bestsellers, there were hard price fights, each merchant tried to underbid his competitors. This especially let to dying out the smaller bookstores with special assortments, books became cheap standware in the supermarket next to postcards and stationery.
06/10/2016 at 13:05

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The same applies in the Netherlands. Comes as a shock after the UK. £16.99 = 22 Euro in Holland. But for writers like me that is better. Worked for Waterstones in UK and the piles in the shop felt like Tesco. Not anymore since James Daunt took over. Now W is v. good, but the prices are still low, so are the author's royalties. I ask myself why I spent 5 years writing the 2 first of the Languedoc Trilogy ...
26/03/2019 at 15:44

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