Are there Bengali books on Kindle?

[Update] Toothless Tiger: Fixed book prices for eBooks come into force

01.09.2016Johannes Haupt (specialist editor) 5 comments

The federal government has legally anchored the validity of fixed book prices also for eBooks and thus implemented a project of the coalition agreement. Politicians and book lobbyists applaud, but the price maintenance law is and will remain a toothless tiger.

[Update 09/01/2016: The fixed book prices for eBooks decided by the federal government in spring will take effect today on 01.09. in force. In fact nothing changes. Due to current events, our analysis from February again.]

Original article from 02/03/2016

The Federal Cabinet decided to change the Book Price Fixing Act, according to which the law will in future also expressly include "electronic books and comparable electronic publishing products". As stated in the draft bill, this is "merely a clarification" - in practice, the validity of the previous law for digital books was not really questioned by any party. The change in the law now has to be passed by the Bundesrat and Bundestag, but due to the clear majority of the governing parties in these chambers, this is merely a matter of form.

In the ministry's press release, Minister of Economic Affairs, Gabriel, emphasizes that the price fixing is being used "for a diverse range of book titles and the large number of bookstores". And the Börsenverein speaks of a "symbol of quality and diversity". In practice, however, the law is hardly worth the (electronic) ink with which it is written, because there are many loopholes for willing publishers and dealers.

A prime example are exclusive editions of generally available books that are currently experiencing a remarkable renaissance in eBooks. Almost all Tolino partners have their particularly affordable exclusive editions, although the content is by no means always exclusive. We reported on exclusive federal popular eBooks from eBook.de (now a Hugendubel subsidiary) as early as 2013, Weltbild.de is also busy bundling.

Free path for willing publishers and dealers

As with the well-known "Club" editions, the title is here declared as a new work with minimal changes (cover, foreword and the like) and thus excluded from the fixed book price. All that is needed for this are co-operating rights holders (publishers, authors, agents). The same applies to e-book flat-rate models such as Kindle Unlimited and Skoobe, which circumvent fixed prices by lending instead of selling.

The fact that publishers can retain sovereignty over their sales prices even without fixed book prices is illustrated by a look at the USA, where the publishers at Amazon & Co. now usually set the sales prices themselves. Only indie titles are really cheap there, the pricing of which is determined by the authors anyway and which are for the most part only available from Amazon - even fixed book prices do not change that.

<Bildnachweis: Bengalisches Tigerbaby von Shutterstock>