Economic Illiteracy of the Week Award Goes To …

Josh Wright —  26 October 2007

Michael Kimmelman at the NY Times.  Luke Froeb beat me to the punch of this one and has already got a post up, but this is too good not to share.  The article is on book sales and book culture in Germany, the latter of which is:

 sustained by an age-old practice requiring all bookstores, including German online booksellers, to sell books at fixed prices. Save for old, used or damaged books, discounting in Germany is illegal. All books must cost the same whether they’re sold over the Internet or at Steinmetz, a shop in Offenbach that opened its doors in Goethe’s day, or at a Hugendubel or a Thalia, the two big  chains.

Ok, fair enough.  The Germans don’t have any sort of monopoly on anticompetitive legislation.  We’ve got a few great examples here in the States.  And apparently this debate over the German rule is sparked by the Swiss allowing discounting of German books.  But you don’t have to be an economist to correctly anticipate the effects of a “no discount” rule on prices, right?  Or maybe you do?  Here’s the award winning line from Kimmelman:

What results has helped small, quality publishers like Berenberg. But it has also — American consumers should take note — caused book prices to drop. Last year, on average, book prices fell 0.5 percent.

I’ll bet you it caused no such thing, Mr. Kimmelman…

One response to Economic Illiteracy of the Week Award Goes To …


    I think Kimmelman is a genius. He is able to spot the economic source of a 0.5 percent price drop (assuming it’s real). That’s, like, a superpower.