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Christmas Book Discounting

2 December 2002

'The trouble with discounting, as I have said before, is that it lowers the price and cheapens the product. And as the product is cheapened, as consumers come to expect lower prices, so discounts have to cut ever deeper. Removing printed publisher prices from books is one way of diminishing the appeal of discounting, but not without adding extra costs for retailers. Unfortunately, it seems that the retailers best equipped to exploit printed prices are not retail booksellers but supermarkets...

'It's time again for the great Christmas giveaway. By which I mean the proportion of the cover price of each discounted book that booksellers effectively hand back to their customers. You would have thought that Christmas would be the one time of year when books effectively sold themselves even at full price, but instead booksellers take advantage of the seasonal surge in demand by dropping prices and encouraging customers to go and spend the money they save elsewhere.'

David Blow contributing to the ongoing debate about the effect of discounting in the British weekly publishing paper Publishing News