Two retail giants in Canada announced discounts on books and magazines on Wednesday. Canadian bookstore chain Indigo is offering a 10% discount on all books in its stores, and Wal-Mart said its Canadian locations will sell books and magazines at their US prices.
Recently, Canadian booksellers have been calling for a change in pricing on books, magazines, and other materials sold to them by American publishers. Typically, books are priced 25% to 30% higher for Canadian consumers, a system based on an outdated exchange rate. With the Canadian dollar currently trading above the US dollar, booksellers and consumers in Canada are miffed and outraged that book prices have not been adjusted.
The discounts now offered by Indigo and Wal-Mart might be enough to keep Canadian consumers from buying books directly from American retailers, but this is bad news for small and independent book shops in Canada. Larger chain stores can afford a profit decrease on books and magazines, especially if it means creating customer loyalty. Smaller retail shops, however, cannot afford such profit losses. Until American publishers offer their books to Canadian booksellers at American prices, indie shops will have to continue charging higher prices.
This reminds me of the astonishing fact that despite selling 2.5 million copies of the seventh Harry Potter book, Amazon actually lost money on the book because of the deep discounts it offered its customers. No small bookstore can compete with that kind of discounting, which is probably why Germany is so up in arms about the Swiss decision to get rid of its fixed book prices.