Fixed book price reprieved for four more years

The fixed book price will remain in force for the next four years and will be reviewed again in 2019, ministers agreed during Friday’s cabinet meeting.

Publishers will then have to be able to show that the fixed book price has led to more small circulation books being published. By fixing book prices, supermarkets and discounters are not allowed to sell books at below the publisher’s recommended price and so cream off the popular end of the market.

Ministers agree it is important to protect more vulnerable publications because the book sector has been hit by declining sales of physical books. ‘Now the book market is shrinking it is even more important to keep bringing out vulnerable publications such as collections of essays and books by new writers,’ culture minister Jet Bussemaker said.

The Dutch arts council has recommended maintaining the book price but the Dutch consumers authority ACM last year criticised it for being old-fashioned and ineffective, the NRC says on Friday.

The ACM said in an opinion piece in the paper last summer there is no evidence the fixed book price encourages book sellers to offer unpopular works alongside best sellers.

The book sector, however, welcomed the cabinet’s decision. ‘The aim of the law is to guarantee the qualify, diversity and availability of Dutch language books for a wide public,’ the statement said.

‘The lively book culture we have in the Netherlands is of crucial importance to our country.’

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