Quebec is looking at ways to help small independent bookstores compete against big box retailers by imposing fixed prices on newly released books.
Public consultation hearings began Monday on a proposal to allow retailers to knock off no more than 10 per cent from the cover price on new books for the first nine months after their release.
Distributors such as Amazon and Chapters would still be able to offer their customers major rebates, because they have warehouses based in Ontario and therefore would not fall under the proposed provincial regulation.
Library associations are participating in the hearings.
Should book prices in Quebec be regulated?
Yes, says a coalition of writers, bookstore owners and publishers, who argue that independent bookstores can no longer compete against the steep discounts offered by large retailers.
They complain that discounts of up to 30 per cent are common on some titles at big-box retailers like Costco and Walmart. And they point to the experience of some countries in Europe where limits on discounting have been legislated.
The coalition has persuaded the Parti Québécois government to hold committee hearings in the National Assembly on its idea that discounting should be limited to 10 per cent for the first nine months after a book’s publication. A publicity campaign titled “Nos livres à juste prix” has been launched, backed by Quebec’s writers’ union and the Quebec booksellers’ association.