Dollar Parity Not Reflected in Publishing
Having spent the past week in Canada, I’m all the more aware of how the Canadian dollar has strengthened to the point where it’s now just about on par with the American dollar – but Canadian book pricing is still way out of line as a result of the industry’s institutional inability to alter pricing as quickly as the dollar shifts up or down. Which is why you’re seeing a lot more stories along the lines of what the New York Times’ Ian Austen reported last Friday:
Elene Fromanger saw little evidence of the Canadian dollar’s new might
when she went shopping for health care books on Friday afternoon.
All of them were marked with separate prices for Canada and the
United States. With the Canadian dollar now at par with the United
States currency, no calculator was needed to discover that Ms.
Fromanger paid $18 more before sales tax than an American shopper would
have for the same three books.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said
outside a downtown Ottawa bookstore. “They still charge more, but the
dollar has been going up for two years. I find it inexcusable.”
…As Ms. Fromanger’s shopping trip demonstrates, the anger toward book
publishers largely stems from the fact that theirs is one of a small
number of products, including newspapers and magazines, that typically
display prices for Canada and the United States.
the lightning rod when the dollar goes up or down,” said Dave Hill, the
manager of Munro’s Books of Victoria, a large independently owned shop
in Victoria, British Columbia. “But it’s a lot more complicated issue
than the customers perceive.”
And so there have been price cuts, implemented as the Canadian dollar gained more strength against US currency, but there’s still a long way to go:
Diane J. Brisebois, the president of the Retail Council of Canada, said Canadian shoppers should be patient.
merchandise now on the shelves and racks in most stores, she said, was
ordered and priced at wholesale earlier this year, when the Canadian
dollar was worth about 15 percent less than it is now relative to the
United States dollar.
But she also cautioned that price
differences reflect more than just one exchange rate. Economies of
scale, different tax and cost structures, and exchange rates with third
countries all play a role, she said.
“For Canadians to believe
that our prices will be at par with American prices under any
circumstances is not realistic,” Ms. Brisebois said. “Americans have 10
times the purchasing power. That’s the reality.”
Something that certainly won’t change anytime soon.