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65% of Quebecers reject the regulation of book prices

Montreal, Wednesday, April 3, 2013 – With a parliamentary committee on the regulation of new book prices yet to be announced by the minister of culture, a Léger poll has found that nearly two-thirds of Quebecers (65%) are opposed to this idea, which is intended to help smaller bookstores but would have the effect of raising the average price of books sold in stores.

“People who do the least reading are the most sensitive to this type of measure,” says Youri Chassin, an economist at the MEI. “Some 74% of occasional readers, who read one to four books a year, reject this measure. Prohibiting discounts on books when they are released would have a greater effect on people who read little and would undermine efforts to encourage reading,” notes Mr. Chassin.

“Let’s be clear about this: prohibiting discounts on newly released titles amounts to raising the average price of books, and this is well understood by Quebecers,” he added. Despite claims by publishers who are members of the Association des distributeurs exclusifs de livres en langue française, book prices in France rose more than the prices of other goods following enactment of a 1981 law setting prices for new books, championed by France’s then minister of culture, Jack Lang.

Not surprisingly, data in the recent poll confirm that Quebecers are likely to alter their habits if they face higher book prices. In fact, 31% would consider ordering books on line, where discounts would still be allowed, and 29% would buy fewer books. This backs the conclusion in an MEI publication in which the authors suggest that regulating prices as advocated by the lobby group Nos livres à juste prix would end up lowering sales of Quebec books by about 17%.

The Léger poll, carried out at the MEI’s request, was conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 people in Quebec and has a ±3.1% margin of error 19 times out of 20. The full report is available on our website.

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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policy in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

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Interview requests: Ariane Gauthier, communications coordinator, Montreal Economic Institute / Tel.: 514 273-0969 ext. 2231 / Cell: 514 603-8746 / E-mail: agauthier@iedm.org

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