Just like many other countries, the Netherlands has a law that governs fixed book prices, requiring publishers to determine the consumer price for each new title. That means that new titles have the same price in each and every bookshop, and that bookshops are not allowed to sell books at a discount. Thus, bookshops are not able to compete on price. This act is now being evaluated by the Dutch Minister for Education (Ms. Jet Bussemaker).
A restriction of competition generates upward pressure on prices. Fixed book prices are no exception to this rule of thumb. However, the rationale behind fixed book prices is that they stimulate having a wide selection of books, as well as wide availability. Yet since consumers pay higher prices and, as a result thereof, buy fewer books, such fixed book prices reduce the cultural output of the book market. After all, items of cultural value do not just need to be offered, but they also need to be experienced.
Opinion piece by economists with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) in Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad, June 11, 2014