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Books Government

Swiss Voters Reject Book Price Controls 129

Posted by timothy
from the abbie-hoffman-smiles dept.
New submitter hinterwaeldler writes "In 2007 Switzerland abandoned book price control (which requires publishers to fix prices for their books and forbids any dealer to sell at another price), reducing prices by 30% to 50% for online buyers. The brick & mortar book stores lobbied the parliament into creating a bill to reinstate the price fixing, against which a referendum was taken by liberals and the Pirate Party, forcing a popular vote. On March 11, after an intense debate, Swiss voters decided against book price control (German-language original) with a majority of 56%."
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Swiss Voters Reject Book Price Controls

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  • by ControlFreal (661231) <niek AT bergboer DOT net> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:38AM (#39339343) Journal

    ... because that is exactly what this initiative ("Buchpreisbindung") was aiming for. Protectionism is wrong, no matter what you name it.

    • by willpb (1168125) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:46AM (#39339417)
      It would be nice to have a functioning democracy. I just wish we could have a referendum on protectionism here in the U.S.
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:01AM (#39339593) Homepage

        It would be nice to have a functioning democracy. I just wish we could have a referendum on protectionism here in the U.S.

        What makes you think it would help? The US would vote overwhelmingly in favor of protectionism -- it's a hugely protectionist country despite claiming to want free trade.

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <[ten.frow] [ta] [todhsals]> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:40AM (#39340087)

          The US would vote overwhelmingly in favor of protectionism -- it's a hugely protectionist country despite claiming to want free trade.

          The US does want free trade though. It wants free trade that benefits itself exclusively. The whole goal is to be as protectionist as possible, but allow token free trade that benefits it. For example, by allowing US companies to sell to other countries freely, but putting up roadblocks when other countries try to sell their goods in the US. The US benefits because its companies are selling more, while being protected from being undercut in other markets by what that country tries to sell the US.

          • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:08PM (#39340497) Journal

            For example, by allowing US companies to sell to other countries freely, but putting up roadblocks when other countries try to sell their goods in the US. The US benefits because its companies are selling more, while being protected from being undercut in other markets by what that country tries to sell the US.

            How do you reconcile this opinion with the US trade deficit [wikipedia.org]?

            • by yuje (1892616)

              The one area where the US (and the other industrialized countries in Europe, as well as Japan and South Korea) do not practice free trade is in agriculture. All these countries want to practice free trade for industrialized goods, so that they can sell their manufactured products at competitive prices, and also purchase raw materials and industrial goods cheaply, but they heavily subsidize agriculture. Often this is done in the name of "protecting farmers", "food safety", "national food security".

              What this

        • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:40AM (#39340089) Homepage Journal

          What makes you think it would help? The US would vote overwhelmingly in favor of protectionism -- it's a hugely protectionist country despite claiming to want free trade.

          Well, to some extent, yes.

          However, I'd argue that we in the US would be a little happier if we could at least compete on a more equal basis against the countries that don't worry about pollution and don't have to mess with the added cost of environmental issues.....those countries that pay $1/hour....and those that manipulate their currency unfairly.

          I wouldn't mind a tax/tarrif on imported goods, that only brought the cost of the final product closer to what it costs to manufacture in the US based on those type of metrics. That way, all things being even for cost, quality would prevail in the US consumer's decision making.

          No, this couldn't be absolute...but as long as it made it reasonably close to equal.

          On the US side...I wish we'd get rid of a lot of the subsidies we have on food, like corn products.....so that natural sugar could compete more closely with HFCS....

          • by Sean (422)

            However, I'd argue that we in the US would be a little happier if we could at least compete on a more equal basis against the countries that don't worry about pollution and don't have to mess with the added cost of environmental issues.....those countries that pay $1/hour....and those that manipulate their currency unfairly.

            Getting the US to lead by example and stop manipulating its currency would be a good start. It's by far the worst offender in that area.

            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              Getting the US to lead by example and stop manipulating its currency would be a good start. It's by far the worst offender in that area.

              I don't see how we're bad at doing that...if we were manipulating out currency, I kinda doubt the dollar would be as weak as it is.

              Talk to me when you get China in line with currency manipulation.....

              • by Anonymous Coward

                The US government WANTS a weaker dollar - that's the only way to reduce the trade deficit with China among others. A weaker currency increases exports while reducing imports, thereby (hopefully) reducing unemployment. It also indirectly taxes wealth and subsidizes debt, increasing risk taking. At least these are the arguments for weakening the dollar. The market abhors arbitrage though, so in reality I suspect that there are hidden mechanisms offsetting these benefits.

              • by Anonymous Coward

                I don't see how we're bad at doing that...if we were manipulating out currency, I kinda doubt the dollar would be as weak as it is.

                Talk to me when you get China in line with currency manipulation.....

                That doesn't make any sense at all. The accusation against China is that it keeps its currency artifically weak to boost exports. You can't really support that accusation while at the same time saying it can't be manipulation if your currency is weak.

                • by Anonymous Coward
                  Yes, you can. The goals are different, so the action is different. China doesn't have a huge trade deficit to finance. The U.S. of A. can tax the rest of the world by printing more dollars. This devalues Chinese trade reserves, and gives spending money to the domestic economy. Nobody else holds Chinese reserves because they don't allow legal trade of the currency outside of China.
          • by willpb (1168125)
            China manipulating their currency is really just protectionism on their part. I'm sure they say we also manipulate our currency unfairly.
          • However, I'd argue that we in the US would be a little happier if we could at least compete on a more equal basis against the countries that don't worry about pollution and don't have to mess with the added cost of environmental issues.....those countries that pay $1/hour....and those that manipulate their currency unfairly.

            The US pollutes much more per capita than any country where workers are paid $1/hour. So if there is a country that doesn't worry about pollution, it's the US.
            Even most others rich countries have a far better respect of the environment than the US.

            The US is the problem here, not the solution.

            • by cayenne8 (626475)

              The US pollutes much more per capita than any country where workers are paid $1/hour.

              Anecdotal....or do you have evidence you can post to back that up?

              • by Ecuador (740021)

                For just CO2 emissions for example look here: http://www.mnp.nl/images/Top20-CO2andGHG-countries-in2006-2005(GB)_tcm61-36276.xls [www.mnp.nl]
                For total green house gas emissions an example source: http://pdf.wri.org/navigating_numbers_chapter4.pdf [wri.org]

                You will note that the US has over 5 times the emissions of China and over 10 times the emissions of India per capita. If you think about it it is quite crazy since most products that the US consumes, are manufactured outside the US! And yet the US is not keen on reducing emissi

                • by cayenne8 (626475)
                  Interesting.

                  I was just asking....personally, I'm not all the worried about emissions. The problems won't really show up till I'm long gone from this planet....so, as long as I have a good life NOW...I'm happy.

                  As for Kyoto....I don't believe the US is the only one that didn't ratify it....and I've heard others are trying to get out of it, etc.

                  Something like Kyoto is useless unless everyone signs on...even emerging industrial countries.

                  • by Ecuador (740021)

                    It was just the US, Canada and Australia that had not signed it originally. Australia later did, so it is just US/Canada the ones that have not ratified Kyoto.

                    I was just asking....personally, I'm not all the worried about emissions. The problems won't really show up till I'm long gone from this planet....so, as long as I have a good life NOW...I'm happy.

                    Hmm, it is not sarcasm? Interesting. Well, that is the exact reason the US is not willing to lower emissions, but they don't spell it out like that. I guess you are at least honest. Of course, you want to reap the benefits of civilization without caring about preserving it for future generations, so as far as human society is concerned you are but a f

                    • Canada ratified it (before Australia) but backtracked a few months ago.

                      China and India both ratified Kyoto, contrary to the common myth.

                  • Interesting.

                    I was just asking....personally, I'm not all the worried about emissions. The problems won't really show up till I'm long gone from this planet....so, as long as I have a good life NOW...I'm happy.

                    As for Kyoto....I don't believe the US is the only one that didn't ratify it....and I've heard others are trying to get out of it, etc.

                    Something like Kyoto is useless unless everyone signs on...even emerging industrial countries.

                    Wow. Where to start.
                    First, this must be the most egocentric post I ever read. Hope you don't have any children to say that.
                    Then, almost all emerging countries ratified Kyoto, including China, India, Brazil, Indonesia... name it.

                    • by cayenne8 (626475)
                      No kids that I know of....(another reason to stay off Facebook, hahaha).

                      Well, what can I say. I only have one life...it isn't that long, and I'm here to enjoy it to the fullest extent I can.

                      When I'm gone...no one will know enough about me to sing my praises, or curse my name...so, what do I care about the future.

                      I'll be dead, and won't be around to know either way how people feel about me or what I did.

                      Ultimately, you're born alone, you die alone....so, while I'm on earth, when it comes down to it...the

          • there are so many regulations that complying with them all is an undue burden on business. The recent Dodd-Frank rules have not been fully implemented but if the numbers are to be believed they are close two twenty two MILLION hours of time required to comply. This all money being spent not producing anything!

            Now go add in all the tax laws, all the environmental regulations you listed, the work laws, various state and even obscure local laws, and it comes clear very quickly that it isn't that America busine

            • by scot4875 (542869)

              The recent Dodd-Frank rules have not been fully implemented but if the numbers are to be believed they are close two twenty two MILLION hours of time required to comply

              Now there's an alarmist, meaningless, out-of-context number if ever there was one.

              --Jeremy

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              there are so many regulations that complying with them all is an undue burden on business.

              That's what the guy in the penthouse bringing down millions per year in salary and stock options says, but I, for one, don't believe a fucking word of it.

              Now go add in all the tax laws,

              How are you to fund government without taxes? Or are you an anarchist?

              all the environmental regulations you listed,

              Look here, boy, that's a sore spot with me. I grew up in Cahokia, IL a couple miles south of the Monsanto plant in Sauge

              • by cayenne8 (626475)
                It isn't the big companies that have trouble with all the regulations and endless paperwork...it is the SMALL business that it kills.

                And so far, in the US history, it has been the small businesses that have driven the economy and employed the majority of people.

                If nothing else, there should at least be exceptions to most of the regulations if you are a business of less than say, 100 people.....

                I just have a one person company, to contract myself through...and it sucks the hoops you have to jump through,

            • by Kremmy (793693)
              You know what all those environmental regulations mean when it comes to the megacorporations that do the polluting?


              Exempt. Exempt. Exempt.


              Some burden.
          • by scot4875 (542869)

            However, I'd argue that we in the US would be a little happier if we could at least compete on a more equal basis against the countries that don't worry about pollution and don't have to mess with the added cost of environmental issues.....those countries that pay $1/hour....and those that manipulate their currency unfairly.

            I wouldn't mind a tax/tarrif on imported goods, that only brought the cost of the final product closer to what it costs to manufacture in the US based on those type of metrics. That way, all things being even for cost, quality would prevail in the US consumer's decision making.

            Careful, you're sounding like a business-hating, job-killing liberal there.

            --Jeremy

        • by willpb (1168125)
          I don't know about that there are a lot of people who'd like lower tariffs on foreign cars for example.
        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Yeah, but think: The Swiss get a referendum on the price of books. We don't even get one on major issues like going to war, trillion dollar gifts to bankers instead of jailing them or even stuff like the TSA.

        • Perhaps.

          But it should be noted that all almost all models of a 'free market' include all people working under the same rules.

          I consider it both morally and functionally problematic to have free trade with a country with vastly different environmental/labor laws.

          It's morally wrong because I don't think an American is *worth* more than a Mexican just because they happen be born in America. So why would we think the American worker too good to work for less than the American minimum wage, when we're perfectly

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            But it should be noted that all almost all models of a 'free market' include all people working under the same rules.

            Which is why a 'free market' is an abstract notion that has never existed, and cannot exist.

            Yet people still cling to it like it's a real, tangible thing, and continue to believe that "if only we had this" it would solve everything efficiently.

            To me, the "free market" is a fantasy that people cling to because their ideology won't allow for anything else -- it's a friggin' unicorn. And since

            • All political thought is a belief system. This is especially true of progressivism even though they claim not to be ideological. Belief in expert panels, administrative state... is just as much a belief as the 'free market'.

              It only matters how closely that belief system matches with reality over the long term.

              I'll still put my lot towards any action that furthers a RULE-based free market as it reflects reality the best and has a pretty long history that keeps coming back.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I don't believe there is anything protectionist about a law like: Any country wishing to trade with the US must obey the US federal minimum wage.

            Especialy since in the country where workers earn a median $1000 per year income, they can feed four in a nice restaraunt for a buck, take a taxi anywhere in the country for a buck or a bus for a nickle, buy a hand-stitched tailored shirt for $5, or rent a house for $30 a month.

            I'm twice as rich as someone living 300 miles away in Chicago who earns the exact same s

            • Even if you account for cost of life, workers in developing countries still get paid less for the same work as workers in paid countries. All you need to do to see that is to look at how an average U.S. worker in a certain profession lives compared to an average Chinese (Mexican, ...) worker in the same profession.

      • by trum4n (982031)
        agreed.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:53AM (#39339493)

      To be fair, there can be things that a society feels are more important than low prices. For instance, perhaps a subsidy is needed to provide incentive for the small Swiss market, which doesn't even have a common language. If the Swiss people thought that they needed more literature than the free market could support, then it is reasonable to subsidize it. As another example, I happen to support some kind of incentive for over-production of food, because I'd much rather over-pay than run out.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        I happen to support some kind of incentive for over-production of food, because I'd much rather over-pay than run out.

        Be careful what you wish for....look what that type of thing has done for the US.

        The corn industry alone with its subsidies....and encouragement to grow as much as possible...had led to the obesity and general downfall of decent nutrition in the US, which is consequently spreading to other parts of the world now.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          Be careful what you wish for....look what that type of thing has done for the US.

          The corn industry alone with its subsidies....and encouragement to grow as much as possible...had led to the obesity and general downfall of decent nutrition in the US, which is consequently spreading to other parts of the world now.

          All better than starving.

          I'm not saying that the way the US government does it is right, and yes I realize that any government interference is subject to corruption and inefficiency. That said, I still want some kind of subsidy, and even the US version is better than none.

          My favored subsidy is to pay farmers to plow excess under. Waste the extra food. People recoil in horror but I think it is the most direct and effective way to overproduce without changing market prices too much. Of course, you have to pol

          • My favored subsidy is to pay farmers to plow excess under. Waste the extra food. People recoil in horror but I think it is the most direct and effective way to overproduce without changing market prices too much. Of course, you have to police the farmers somehow to make sure that they actually dispose of the food, which is where the corruption part comes in...

            People would be right to recoil in horror. How can you justify wasting good food when there are millions starving in other countries? Why not use that money to ship the excess to people in need, earning a lot of good will in the process?

            • by Fned (43219)

              Why not use that money to ship the excess to people in need, earning a lot of good will in the process?

              Where would the money to bribe the warlords and/or corrupt government officials come from? That's going to be way higher than transportation costs.

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              People would be right to recoil in horror. How can you justify wasting good food when there are millions starving in other countries?

              I disagree. First, it is not wasting - it is producing excess in the case of emergency. Pretend the whole world is fed for a moment - you would have to destroy the food, simply because you can't stockpile it forever (nor economically).

              Second, you can't use the food anywhere where it would impact food prices - that would defeat the purpose.

              Third, you don't want to make a poor country dependent on your emergency food - what happens when you have your emergency and need the food?

              Fourth, if you give food to a p

    • I disagree. There are instances when this kind of regulation may have a positive outcome on a market. The extremist way you put it just warrant that only popular ideas get sold (have more demands, thus get more or all of the rack space).

      Books are kind of an important thing. We are not talking about cheese here.

    • by pr0nbot (313417)

      Protectionism is not "wrong" in any moral sense, just "wrong" according to economic theory.

      Protectionism has the short-term effect of increasing prices for local consumers and funneling their money into the pockets of those who own the protected industries. (But if you consider that transfer "wrong", then your problem is with capitalism, not protectionism.) On the other hand, the protected industries provide jobs and livelihoods for their workers which would otherwise vanish, and need to be replaced. Compar

      • Protectionism is not "wrong" in any moral sense, just "wrong" according to economic theory.

        Protectionism is wrong, first and foremost, in the moral sense. It also happens to be a poor choice in the economic sense if your goals involve prosperity, but that is a relatively minor issue.

        A protectionist trade policy amounts to coercive interference in voluntary trade between private individuals and organizations on opposite sides of the border, without a shred of defensive justification. Using or threatening coercive force against people who have neither harmed you, nor threatened to do so, is immoral

        • by pr0nbot (313417)

          (Firstly - thanks for an interesting discussion, even if no one but us is going to read it!)

          I hadn't considered (and generally sympathise with) your libertarian approach to trade between people. But I think you've perhaps taken things to extremes.

          Firstly, protectionism takes many forms; you seem to be implying an outright ban on the trade of some good, with stiff penalties (coercive force) for breaking the ban, but there are other less coercive forms of protectionism. For example, Brazil imposes something l

    • Protectionism aimed to protect a specific industry from other actors within the same country is wrong. I don't see anything wrong with protectionism in international trade, given the inherently uneven playing field (quality of life differences), and lack of true freedom of movement for labor.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Protectionism is wrong, no matter what you name it.

      Only if you consider "free trade" to be some sort of philosophical ideal that is achievable in reality, in the same way that people seriously describe multinational capitalism as being a "free market".

      The freedom of large corporations to economically exploit poor countries is the same as the freedom of a man in a purely capitalist society who can choose to work himself to death for a pittance rather than starve.

  • You must make laws to ensure its survival!
  • I'm just shocked that it was only 56%.

    I'd have thought a greater portion of the Swiss constituency would have better sense than this.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      The number is quite high, actually. Don't count on 100% of the population to care about 100% of topics. Not everyone reads so many books to the point that a price increase would matter to them.

    • Most referendum in Switzerland usually end up with a score like that, accepted (or rejected) by 50 to 60% of voters, irrespective of the question asked. On rare occasions the score is much higher. For instance, on Sunday we also voted against two extra weeks of paid holidays (from four to six) by 67%.
      • by trum4n (982031)
        Here in America, the congress gets 52 weeks paid vacation.
        • Here in America, the congress gets 52 weeks paid vacation.

          Hey, that's only 364 days! The 365th day must be a Sunday or public holiday or something.

  • Majority? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:49AM (#39339451)

    "...a majority of 56%"

    Still sounds pretty divided to me.

    Although I agree with the outcome. It is simply common sense. Prices at a brick and mortar store will be higher, you are paying for the convenience of buying something immediately. Online prices will of course be lower, they don't have the overhead, however you have to wait days, weeks for your order, as well as pay for shipping.

    So no I don't feel bad for the dinosaurs of industry that think they can legislate profits. @%$#^! you. If the market says we want more online stores than brick and mortar, then so be it. Quit saying the market is king on one hand and with the other lobbying government to legislate monopoly powers to manipulate the market!

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      Not that I am Swiss or anything...

      However it does show the legitimate and responsible use of power by the "Pirate Party". Hopefully this will translate elsewhere.

    • by medv4380 (1604309)
      56 to 44 is nearly a 12 point gap. It really is a clear majority. What you're thinking of is a Super Majority which would be 60% and higher. That is kinda rare even when people mostly agree. There will always be on or two details that end up killing a Super Majority.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is a huge majority by Swiss convention, >5% and you get caned 98 to 2 if you ask the same question in the next 25 years, no salami slicing here.

        MFG, omb

    • by DingerX (847589) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#39339847) Journal
      The German-speaking Cantons all had majorities against the ban. The French-speaking cantons all had majorities [i]in favor[/i] of the ban. Swiss-Germans outnumber everybody else by a wide margin, so they won.

      The argument for price-fixing is the same one behind the death of record stores. Remember record stores? Turns out there are a few hits out there that most people buy, and then those interested in music have wider interests, and therefore want a broader catalog to choose from. The record store business model is built on selling those hits and using some of that revenue to pay for the space to hold a broad selection and the expertise to guide customers. Even before the internet was making dents in music sales, the big labels were already running exclusive deals with Walmart and Target, sinking the record store business model. The same thing is going on with books: the competition to worry about isn't the internet; it's the big chains that can serve 80% of the market by distributing a handful of best-sellers, and screw the rest. And it's the publishers themselves, who cut deals with the big chains on their top sellers, and in so doing, contribute to killing off the market for their own books.

      And yes, it's protectionism in the same way mandating broadband to rural areas is protectionism.
      • Language division, just like the minarets ban.

        • No because in this case both side voted differently but with the same goal -> price decrease! Currently there is no price fixing, and the price of books in french speaking part of Switzerland is about 50% more than in France...
          • Except if retailers are taking all of that 50% premium (which would only be possible in a non-competitive market), I doubt that price fixing would lower prices.

      • The same thing is going on with books: the competition to worry about isn't the internet; it's the big chains that can serve 80% of the market by distributing a handful of best-sellers, and screw the rest.

        Let BuyNLarge have the exclusive to the Oprah / Today garbage du jour; that will leave talented authors to sell directly to the folks whom aren't unintentionally auditioning for a walk-on part in Idiocracy.

    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      Online prices will of course be lower, they don't have the overhead, however you have to wait days, weeks for your order, as well as pay for shipping.

      Hmm...I buy onlinie 99% of the time over brick and mortar, unless I have to have it THAT day.

      But really....with amazon.com (I have amazon prime), I get 2x day shipping...and if I'm really impatient, I can spend $4 for overnight....

      But really, for online, it is nicer, I don't pay tax on the item, shipping is free (even without prime, if you order $25 or more

  • by cpu6502 (1960974)

    What on earth do you need to fix prices on books for? I could understand the argument for things people need (milk, gasoline, electricity), but price fixing for entertainment that is not a necessity??? Nuts.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @10:55AM (#39339525)

    This is going to be one of those issues that ties many liberals in knots. On the one hand, they like the idea of fighting corporate greed and collusion price-fixing, on the other hand they're big on romanticizing local mom-and-pop stores (like many of the bookstores that will be hurt by online competition). But it seems to be the inevitable direction that things are going, not just for bookstores, but for a LOT of other types of retail store. If you're a retail bookstore these days and you can't answer the question "What do you offer that Amazon doesn't/can't?" then you're probably in trouble. And if price-fixing by government mandate is your only hope, you're in a LOT of trouble.

    I have to admit that I much prefer the online experience myself. But it's not just the price that attracts me, but the selection. I just bought a pair of great shoes in my weird size online that I could have never in a million years found locally. Similarly, I can find books through Amazon which would never be stocked in any of my local bookstores (which all seem to be 90% Harry-Potter-Twilight and 10% over-priced-coffee-shop these days). But your mileage may vary.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:36AM (#39340025)

      I'm Swiss, so I think I can give some insights in the vote.

      The law wasn't so much about online retailers, but more about big retail store (Walmart-like) that could sell bestseller at a much lower price than independent bookstore because of agreement they (apparently) have with importers.

      Now, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, most books are imported from France. Basically, there is only one importer for each book and this situation allow the importers to fix outrageous prices (up to 80% more than the price in France for the same book). Now, an independent bookstore cannot put any pressure on the importer since the importer has the monopoly on a range of books. Big retail store can put more pressure on the importers because the importers somehow depend on them.

      So, this law was a way to protect the independent bookstores and allow a governement body to fix limit on the swiss price/french price ratio.

      The situation is kind of different in the German part of Switzerland, because they have some kind of regulation by the association of bookstore. Interestingly enough, all of the French-speaking county accepted the law, but all the German-speaking one refused it (so it got refused because we have more German-speaking).

      Now, there are some other way to fight against the book importers cartel and the "Swiss competition commision" said it will start an investigation about the prices and possibly illegal agreements between big retail store and monopolistic importers.

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Hmm...so, Switzerland is some kind of divided country?!?!

        There's a German and French side to it?

        I've never been there, but just assumed it was full of Swiss people...speaking one Swiss language....

        • by b0bby (201198)

          First time I went there I was an ignorant 18 year old & was quite confused when the signs switched from French (which I could get by in) to German (which I couldn't).

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It's full of Swiss people who speak one of several official languages, depending on their geographic areas. (German, French, Italian, Romansh). They typically speak a few of the others, and English.

      • Currently there is one big winner: Amazon. Last time I went to a DHL office (in french speaking part of Switzerland) I thought it was an Amazon warehouse! You get French price and free shipping, no other book seller can compete with this.
      • by loustic (1577303)

        For books in French, amazon.fr ships for free in Switzerland on order above 20 EUR (since last year).

        Amazon.de ships for free with no minimum amount, so that's for the books in German.

        And for the books in English you get them where the price is the lowest.

        And as written on te post website, the upper limit of the goods value (incl. transport costs) for an import exempt from VAT is:

        8% VAT (the majority of items sent) => CHF 62

        2,5% VAT (e.g. books) => CHF 200.

      • by devent (1627873)
        Here is some interesting article about this issue: Why Publishers, Not Amazon, Should Set Book Prices [newrules.org].

        Recently three French economists produced a study comparing 12 European countries, some with fixed price laws and some without, and concluded, "Over the past decade, the growth rate of book prices is weaker in countries with fixed prices than in countries with free prices" and "the increase of new titles is stronger in the countries which have a fixed price."

        • by Alsn (911813)

          Oh if I still had my mod points from last week, thank you parent for that article link!

    • by jank1887 (815982)

      what B&M offers: browsing. the browsing experience of an organized library type environment beats anything presentable on Amazon. Google books is trying, but its just all too serial.

    • Couldn't the French cantons just enact their own laws with respect to this, which only apply on their territory? Or do you have something similar to the US "commerce clause" that restricts the ability of cantons to regulate economic activity that crosses their borders?

  • From reading his article, he makes it seem less of a money issue (at the end of the day, it is), but more of one for increasing the amount of culture created by these small books stores. He cites Germany that has book prices fixed and how much goes on in the stores at a cultural level with spectacular events, readings, people paying just to partake in the activities. He then goes into how in the US, this is very rare and he feels it's mostly being there are no small book stores for people to have these ev

    • I agree with your summary of the issue. I'm against it on general free-market liberal grounds, but it was never an on-line vs. brick-and-mortar issue. (It looked like the on-line stores were going to be able to get around it anyhow.) It was about the grocery stores buying 50,000 copies of the most profitable books, taking the cream of the market. Because the grocery stores have more total turnover, they can get by on smaller margins, but they are only ever going to carry the most current best sellers.

      If

  • Open Source, Open Markets. It's all about unrestricted access and fewer controls on your things.
  • Most disturbing is that 44% actually voted FOR a bill that artificially inflates book prices...

  • You can't -lobby- a country's ENTIRE population...

    Let's get Citizen Initiated Referenda all over the World! :-)

    (...at least in places where there's a good, effective Bill of Rights
    to protect against far Right racism being written into Law.)

  • Swiss books are REJECTED!

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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