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Old 05-25-2011, 11:47 PM   #1
RockdaMan
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France writes the "agency model" into national law

Wow!

Quote:
Under the new scheme, it is publishers who will set a single price for their e-books, which distributors must follow. So long as the publisher is French, distributors must abide by the list price even if based elsewhere.

The point of such laws is to keep prices up in order to fund French culture and insulate it from the ruthlessness of the market.
Quote:
French Culture Minister Mitterand said that "the book remains a unique cultural artifact, irreducible to a solely commercial dimension… Thirty years after the Lang Law on book prices, here is founding legislation for the book trade and the regulation of cultural industries in the digital age."

And he expressed his firm belief that "the editor should to be able to control the value of the book, regardless of the location of the distributer. I am therefore delighted that the balance struck by the joint committee allows distributors in France of playing on equal footing with those outside our borders."
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Old 05-26-2011, 05:39 AM   #2
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How is that even news? It's always been that way for pbooks as well.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
How is that even news? It's always been that way for pbooks as well.
News to me. Thanks.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:05 AM   #4
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There was a lengthy discussion here, too, just for completeness' sake.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:10 AM   #5
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The point of such laws is to keep prices up in order to fund French culture and insulate it from the ruthlessness of the market.
Shame other countries didn't have such forethought. Supermarkets really shouldn't be the custodians of a nation's culture.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
Shame other countries didn't have such forethought. Supermarkets really shouldn't be the custodians of a nation's culture.
Shame?!
Forethought?
Because money-grubbing multinational conglomerates named Hachette, Bertlesmann, et al,are the proper custodians of culture?

Beg to differ.
The only proper custodians of living, breathing, dynamic cultures are the citizens that live it.
They are the ones who inherit it, shape it, and pass it on.
Healthy cultures are alive, proud, ever-changing, and not for sale by anybody.
Strong healthy cultures are not afraid of the ideas, stories, or rhythms of anybody.
Strong healthy cultures don't need protecting.

Anybody who says otherwise is just looking to pad their wallets at the expense of the unwary.
Or their unwitting accomplices.

Last edited by fjtorres; 05-26-2011 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 08:01 PM   #7
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The point of such laws is to keep prices up in order to fund French culture and insulate it from the ruthlessness of the market.
That is just plain silly. No matter what the end retail price is the author and publisher still get paid the same unless they themselves choose otherwise.

In fact lower prices mean better distribution (more buyers) higher income for the authors and possibly more cultural advancement.

Helen
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Old 05-26-2011, 08:15 PM   #8
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This is a similar protective mechanism, employed by the French government, that periodically purges out foreign (aka non French) words from the French language.

Bizarre. Though the French are sometimes not alone undertaking this type of focused protectionism.

I do agree that culture is defined by the people of that country or ethnicity, not enforced by government decree.
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Old 05-27-2011, 03:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
No matter what the end retail price is the author and publisher still get paid the same unless they themselves choose otherwise.
Actually, it's not so much about authors and publishers as it is about bookstores. If MacBooks down the road mustn't compete on price with ArtsyBooks Ltd. the latter's greater selection, knowledgeable staff etc. may allow them to survive, thrive even, under the right circumstances.

This is true for online shopping, too: Amazon must charge the same price as your friendly neighborhood bookstore (with free shipping the only incentive they're allowed to throw in). It's still more convenient to have them ship books to your doorstep, and the selection is unmatched, obviously, but it gives "real" bookstores a fighting chance. At least that's the idea.

I am not sure how ebooks fit into the whole scenario. Many of these arguments (limited shelf space, costly brick-and-mortar presence) simply don't apply to them.
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Old 05-27-2011, 03:57 AM   #10
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This is a similar protective mechanism, employed by the French government, that periodically purges out foreign (aka non French) words from the French language.
That's a whole 'nother story. Yes, there is that august guardian of the French language, the Académie Française. And yes, they routinely publish lists of words that they'd like to see replaced by "proper" French words. Any you know what? People routinely ignore them. They still say le week-end, le chewing gum and what not. There is no way to force people to use these words.

We have the same problem in German as well (although there is no official government body to watch over the "purity" of the language), if it is a problem. I personally draw the line at pseudo-anglicisms, i.e. people using made-up words, just because they sound or look English. There's a whole bunch of words in German now that a native speaker of English would find impossible to understand (in the German sense at least), such as handy (cell phone), dressman (male model) or smoking (tuxedo).

Some of these words are quite old, and it's not a new problem by any means. Of course it might be that the French are a tad more protectionist than the rest of us. Who knows.
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Old 05-27-2011, 08:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
Actually, it's not so much about authors and publishers as it is about bookstores.
Correct.
"Cultural protectionism" is a strawman argument and a smokescreen to hide pure corporate welfare. Protectionism is an economic tool, not a social or cultural one.
If anybody wants to make the argument that taking money from the poor to give to the wealthy is good public policy, I'm not going to argue one way or another; this isn't the venue.

But to argue that there is some *special virtue* in raising book prices, thereby raising barriers to the practice of literacy and the spread of ideas; that making reading more expensive and therefore limiting its accesibility to the poor is a way to strengthen local culture strikes me as the kind of doublespeak that Orwell's distopia relied on.

If the aim is to protect the profits of booksellers, come out and say it; let the citizenry decide if they care that much about them to sacrifice for them. By trying to obfuscate and hide the true intent the protectionists are admitting that, given an open choice, consumers would refuse to sacrifice for the booksellers. That, I would agree with.

Propping up failing/uncompetitive booksellers only delays and magnifies the eventual collapse; instead of one or two or a few failing, thereby strengthing the survivors that adapt, protectionism ensures all remain isolated and uncompetitive and fail simultaneously.

And fail they will because, as we all know, the days of batch-printed treeware as the primary distribution channel for books are numbered.

Delaying the inevitable is no virtue, shows no forethought, and it is hardly a shame to recognize a futile effort and refuse to support it.
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:11 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
... to argue that there is some *special virtue* in raising book prices, thereby raising barriers to the practice of literacy and the spread of ideas; that making reading more expensive and therefore limiting its accesibility to the poor is a way to strengthen local culture strikes me as the kind of doublespeak that Orwell's distopia relied on.
There is no raising of prices. Unlike the agency model which in many (or most) cases did lead to increased prices, fixed book prices have been an economic reality in much of Europe for quite some time now.

Could prices be lower? For certain blockbuster books, certainly. Would that, in the long term, lead to a reduced selection of available books? Wouldn't that mean that all bookstores would have to stock those books they think had the biggest mass market appeal? The various governments like to think so, and I for one consider it an entirely valid point of view.

I find it very funny, incidentally, that with the Big Six collusion the situation in the "free market" US for now is pretty similar to the "protectionist" EU.
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rogue_librarian View Post
Could prices be lower? For certain blockbuster books, certainly. Would that, in the long term, lead to a reduced selection of available books? Wouldn't that mean that all bookstores would have to stock those books they think had the biggest mass market appeal? The various governments like to think so, and I for one consider it an entirely valid point of view.
How do book prices in France and Germany compare with those in UK, which abolished its fixed book price agreement? I think the answer is that they are (significantly) higher. Is the UK suffering from a poor selection of books?
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:06 AM   #14
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No but it killed the independent bookshop...unable to compete on price with supermarkets creaming off the bestsellers by selling at cheaper prices than the indies could buy from the publisher... and the net then hammered the final nails into the coffin...


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How do book prices in France and Germany compare with those in UK, which abolished its fixed book price agreement? I think the answer is that they are (significantly) higher. Is the UK suffering from a poor selection of books?
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Old 05-27-2011, 11:09 AM   #15
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No but it killed the independent bookshop...unable to compete on price with supermarkets creaming off the bestsellers by selling at cheaper prices than the indies could buy from the publisher... and the net then hammered the final nails into the coffin...
That's bad if you are running an independent bookstore, but not necessarily if you are buying books.
Supermarkets have almost killed off independent greengrocers/ butchers/ etc..., but have resulted in a broader selection of items, and shops that are actually open when I have time to shop.
Should there be a fixed price for cauliflower and bacon?
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