The Economics of Books
Rick Van der Ploeg
University of Oxford
Jan C. Van Ours
Tilburg University - Department of Economics; University of Melbourne - Department of Economics
M. F. M. Canoy
University of tilburg
CESifo Working Paper Series No. 1414; CentER Discussion Paper No. 2005-13
The tensions between books and book markets as expressions of culture and books as products in profit-making businesses are analysed and insights from the theory of industrial organisation are given. Governments intervene in the market for books through laws concerning prices of books, grants for authors and publishers, a lower value-added tax, public libraries and education in order to stimulate the diversity of books on offer, increase the density of retail outlets and to promote reading. An overview of the different ways by which countries differ in terms of market structures and government policies is given. Particular attention is paid to retail price maintenance. Due to differences between European countries it is not a good idea to harmonise European book policies. Our analysis suggests that the book market seems quite able to invent solutions to specific problems of the book trade and that, apart from promoting reading, there is little need for government intervention.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 61
Keywords: books, publishers, authors, diversity, monopolistic competition, retail price maintenance, subsidies, libraries, internet
JEL Classification: Z11, D4, D6, L1, L4working papers series
Date posted: February 18, 2005
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