The books and e-books markets are characterised by public intervention to pursue cultural policy objectives, such as to promote reading as well as the quality and diversity of books.
Competition authorities in some jurisdictions participate in the policy debate, for instance by advocating the revision of legislation banning parallel imports of books or of the laws regulating the price of books (the so-called fixed book price system). The latter rules, allowing publishers to set retail prices, originated from commercial agreements between publishers and booksellers, and were later enshrined in legislation in some countries. The launch of e-books has introduced new dimensions into this market and the policy debate, such as whether the various policy measures should be extended to cover e-books. In addition, on the enforcement front, the distribution of e-books has attracted antitrust scrutiny in a few jurisdictions.
In November 2021, the OECD explored the role of competition and regulation in this market, drawing on the experience of selected jurisdictions. In particular, the discussion covered the rationale and impact of the policies and regulations in the books market; the interplay between regulation and market developments, namely the launch of e-books; and whether the enforcement cases on e-books had an impact on market developments.
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Joost Poort Bio
Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam
Imke Reimers Bio
Associate Professor of Economics, Northeastern University, United States
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