December 2, 2013 5:31 pm

Quebec to limit discounts on books sold in the province

Argentinian-born Marcela Iacub's book entitled 'Beauty and the Beast' (Belle et Bete) on display in a bookshop.

Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images
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MONTREAL – Quebec announced on Monday that the province intends to introduce legislation to limit the discount of new print and digital books to 10 per cent.

“I am proud to announce that the government is going ahead with this measure will protect the identity and culture of Quebec,” Maka Kotto, Minister of Culture and Communications, said in a statement.

“Books are not like other commodities.”

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READ MOREQuebec government considers plan to regulate price of books

The legislation would ensure that when Quebec shoppers buy a book, whether it’s sold in an independent shop, a large chain, online or as a digital version, they would pay approximately the same price, by limiting any discounts to 10 per cent of the publisher’s price during the first nine months.

The bill would last for a period of three years, so that the government can assess its impact.

“The government wants to help our network of libraries, whose financial situation is increasingly precarious,” Kotto said, while also noting that “booksellers are key players in our society.”

READ MOREEbook sales in Canada plateauing: report

Currently, many large chain stores are able to negotiate discounted prices from publishing firms and offer huge discounts on new books at a lower price than independent stores are able to negotiate.

The Quebec Writer’s Federation has backed the regulation.

Its spokesperson, author David Homel, told Global News in the summer that most people involved in the book industry are behind the plan.

“Right now, the megastores are selling a very small number of books for very big discounts that independents and small chains just can’t offer,” he said.

He pointed out that if small booksellers close, it has an enormous impact on writers.

“I’ve never had a book launch or a reading in a superstore, but I have had many in a real book shop.”

However, the president of the largest chain of French-language bookstores in North America and the biggest bookstore chain in Canada after Chapters/Indigo  does not support book price fixing.

“We’re against the proposed regulations,” the president and CEO of Renaud-Bray, Blaise Renaud, told Global News in the summer.

“People didn’t question whether the regulation would help booksellers,” he said.

“In fact, the measure won’t save the independent bookstores, it will just make the distributors even more money.”

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