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High Canadian Dollar Bringing The Price Of Books Down

May 17th, 2006

Back in April I noted one of the more obvious examples of the exchange rate is the price of books: look on the back and there is an American price and a Canadian price:

Want to know the inflationary effect of a low dollar? Try this: Grab a book you bought in 1988. What is the US price on it? What is the Canadian price? Now get a book from 1995, and do the same thing. See the difference in prices there? – e.g. John Grisham, A Time To Kill: 1989. $6.99 US, $7.99 Can. John Grisham, The Summons: 2002. $7.99 US, $11.99 Can.

It appears I am not the only one to notice, and book consumers are about to get a big break as a result:

The surging Canadian dollar is prompting book publishers to slash the prices of their new offerings later this year in the wake of consumer complaints…

Retailers have been conveying angry complaints from customers who cringe when they examine the suggested list price and see a difference between U.S. and Canadian prices that far exceeds the exchange rate.

Yahoo! $7.99 for the Da Vinci Code in paperback, count me in.

Interesting, that it took consumer complaints to get the change. I guess that’s what you get when you put the comparative price right on the product and have consumers who read. I wonder what products won’t be coming down in price because the audience for them has no clue the price should be coming down? Rap CD’s? Video games?

Although this is all wonderful for us readers, don’t go running to your book store just yet:

Consumer queries prompted Indigo Books & Music Inc. to post signs in its Indigo, Chapters and Coles stores informing customers that publishers, not retailers, establish listed prices based on manufacturing cycles of six to 12 months. Some books are contracted two to three years before they hit store shelves.

Oh, and don’t expect a 1:1 ratio if the dollar reaches parity, the system isn’t that fair:

The price of books will likely never exactly mirror the exchange rate, she noted. Copyright legislation allows publishers a cushion of at least 10 per cent for the costs of importing and marketing foreign titles in Canada.

So a Canadian book would be 10% lower? Somehow I doubt it. And make no mistake, they are allowed a 10% premium, and they will take their 10% premium.

But, lower book prices are on the way. Now if we could get the rest of the retail sector to get on board and start passing their true cost savings n to consumers.


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