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The Danish Competition Council advises the Minister of Culture against reintroducing fixed retail prices in the book market

20. februar 2013

On February 20 2013, The Danish Competition Council (DCC) has sent an open letter to the Minister of Culture in which the DCC advises the Minister of Culture against reintroducing fixed retail prices in the book market. Financial assistance to literature and to the book market can instead be directly targeted any eventual need in the book market.

The DCC’s letter was initiated by the lively debate that has taken place in the public recently. Parts of the book sector have expressed a wish for a reintroduction of fixed retail prices in the book market, for example for a period of 3-4 months for new publications.

Until 2001 the book market was heavily regulated because of cultural considerations in providing consumers easy access to books and a wide selection of books. Books could exclusively be sold in book stores and retail prices were fixed.

According to the book sector the book market has become oriented towards best-sellers after the liberalization of the market was initiated in 2001. Best-sellers are being sold at a low price in the retail sector which has caused publishers and book stores to lose income. According to the book sector the consequence is that publishers cannot afford to publish a wide selection of literature and that book stores are closing.

However the DCC does not find that the liberalization of the book market has been to the detriment of cultural considerations. Studies show that after the liberalization of the book market was initiated more people buy and read books, more books are being sold, more fiction is being published, the numbers of sales outlets have gone up and books have become relatively cheaper.

The DCC further finds that a reintroduction of fixed retail prices will be to the detriment of consumers and that there are no guarantee that it will be to the benefit of cultural considerations.
Competition between book stores will be eliminated, book prices will go up and hence consumers will have to pay more for their books.

On these grounds the DCC has recommended to the Minister of Culture that pricing of books are kept free. If there is a political wish to financially assist literature and the book market this can be directly targeted eventual specific need for assistance.