“Biblio Diversity” Championed by Europeans
I marvel at American booksellers for their tenacity and I envy European booksellers for the support they get from their countries.
From big box stores to Amazon, they’ve stuck to their principles even when predatory pricing presents tremendous hurdles to sustainability. Today’s op-ed piece in The New York Times by Pamela Druckerman offers a perspective for American reader on just how some European countries are supporting their locally owned bookshops for the sake of “biblio diversity.”
First, countries have witnessed there’s a lot to be lost when mega corporations sell below cost for the sole purpose of driving out competition:
“The French secret is deeply un-American: fixed book prices. Its 1981 ‘Lang law,’ named after former Culture Minister Jack Lang, says that no seller can offer more than 5 percent off the cover price of new books. That means a book costs more or less the same wherever you buy it in France, even online.”
Yes, books are protected because they are not “potatoes”. Books are ideas. Putting ideas into the hands of just a few corporations is scary.
Placing a cap on discounting limits predatory pricing as a competitive advantage. This is a game-changer. and provides a different dynamic for European booksellers and readers. This supports small business. It also says books and ideas are valued.
In the U.S. we have to continue to out-smart and out-wit the mega corporations by changing the rules of the game and competing on ways that are local, authentic, human, and about the in-person experience.