Only five months after the Québec government announced it would go ahead with its innovative fixed pricing legislation on new books, the project is dead.
Following a spring election, the new Couillard liberal government axed the project last week. The announcement was made discreetly on a Friday, after the majority of Quebecers had left work to go on summer break.
Hélène David, Québec's new Minister of Culture and Communications, said: "Rather than opting for a partial solution, such as price fixing for new titles...[we] will recommend targeted actions to obtain practical and measurable results." The government gave no further indications as to what those actions might be.
The book industry was sorely disappointed, and reacted quickly on social networking.
Jean-François Bouchard, president of the ANEL (Quebec's French-language publishers association), did not hesitate to throw a few jabs at the government, stating on his Facebook page: "I'm sure the government will find very effective solutions which no one in the book industry has thought of up until now. It is well known that those working in the publishing trade lack any and all vision. Good luck...my prayers go out to you."
In December 2013, the then minister of culture, Maka Kotto, had announced that Québec was to go ahead with a fixed price law on new titles limiting discounts to 10% in the first 9 months. The move was heralded by the ALQ (Quebec's independent booksellers association), which has seen its profits plummet and its closures spike in the past few years.
The Fixed Pricing Law on Books was to be evaluated after a three-year trial period, at which point it would have either been officially accepted or rejected. But the historical defeat of the Parti Québécois in the April 7 elections ended the short-lived dream.