Book sales rise ahead of law block­ing dis­counts

JoongAng Daily - - Business - BY PARK EUN-JEE ej­park@joongang.co.kr

Read­ers have flocked to on­line re­tail­ers to make the most of the last re­main­ing days of heavy price re­duc­tions on pub­li­ca­tions a week be­fore a pol­icy that lim­its dis­counts on books goes into ef­fect.

When the law comes into force next Fri­day, all book­sellers will be banned from of­fer­ing more than 15 per­cent off cover prices — re­gard­less of when the pub­li­ca­tion was re­leased.

The new reg­u­la­tion, which will only al­low books to be dis­counted by up to 10 per­cent, with an ad­di­tional re­duc­tion of 5 per­cent per­mit­ted un­der company mem­ber­ship schemes, is aimed at sta­bi­liz­ing prices in the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try and pro­tect­ing smaller in­de­pen­dent book­stores against gi­ant on­line re­tail­ers.

Presently, book­sellers can give a max­i­mum re­duc­tion of 19 per­cent — up to 10 per­cent in cash and 9 per­cent in mem­ber­ship points — for newly pub­lished books or those re­leased less than 18 months ago. There are no re­stric­tions on dis­counts for older books.

Ahead of the en­force­ment, some read­ers have started to hoard books.

G-Mar­ket, an e-com­merce site op­er­ated by eBay Korea, said that sales of its hu­man­i­ties books rose more than 130 per­cent this month com­pared to the same pe­riod last year. Sales of comic books saw a whop­ping 170 per­cent jump com­pared to a year ago.

The on­line shop­ping mall is ap­ply­ing spe­cial pro­mo­tions to some older books, of­fer­ing up to 90 per­cent off un­til next Thurs­day. The majority of books on sale are avail­able at dis­counts of 60 per­cent to 70 per­cent than the orig­i­nal re­tail prices.

The auc­tion site has also seen an over­all in­crease in book sales. It said that book sales (as of Nov. 10) in­creased by 35 per­cent this month.

By cat­e­gory, sales of self-help books jumped the most (120 per­cent), fol­lowed by hu­man­i­ties books (80 per­cent) and text­books (65 per­cent).

Do­mes­tic e-com­merce site 11th Street also re­ported a 54 per­cent in­crease in sales over the same pe­riod. The re­tail out­let be­gan dis­count­ing stock on a large scale from last month, of­fer­ing up to 90 per­cent off some 6,000 books.

The Min­istry of Cul­ture, Sports and Tourism yes­ter­day is­sued a for­mal state­ment stip­u­lat­ing that it will en­force the law next Fri­day. Book­sellers violating the new rules will be sub­ject to a max­i­mum of 3 mil­lion won ($2,700) in fines. De­spite the gov­ern­ment’s seem­ingly good in­ten­tions, the new pric­ing pol­icy has sparked a back­lash, es­pe­cially from con­sumers.

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