Swiss booksellers at war with French book prices

Swiss booksellers at war with French book prices

The news hit Switzerland on Tuesday and could shake up the French publishing sector. “The complaint of the Payot bookstore filed in September last year was successful, the Commission for the Protection of Market Competition (Comco) announced in a press release. Comco has opened an investigation into the prices of French books delivered to Switzerland”, the Swiss media write Blick.

In the affair, therefore, two heavyweights will clash. The subject of the complaint is none other than the publishing behemoth Madrigall, “the hexagonal property of publishers Gallimard, Flammarion, Casterman or even La Pléiade”, as the diary reminds Time. Payot is not to be outdone: the company holds 35% of the market in French-speaking Switzerland.

According to the Swiss bookseller, Madrigall would use his dominant position to charge exorbitant prices, “40 to 50% more than those for the same titles sold in the French market”, reports Time. “Specifically, the publisher is accused of charging far too much for the works, filling his own pockets in the process”, he adds Blick.

“Challenging Dominance” by Madrigallo

Now in the hands of the Swiss competition authority, the conflict will be resolved in two stages. It will first have to check whether Madrigall does indeed have some power over Payot and is in breach of competition laws, before taking a closer look at the prices and determining whether they are excessive. Comco should publish its conclusions within a year, he specifies Time.

“The ultimate goal is to challenge price networks at least as much […] but to challenge the dominant position occupied by the house on Boulevard Raspail in Paris, founded by Gaston Gallimard in 1911.

However, despite the opening of the investigation, an amicable solution can still be found. Because, in the absence of negotiations, Switzerland could open a real one “Pandora’s Box”, according to Time, offering Swiss booksellers the possibility of direct supply to the French market, a solution that would significantly reduce the amount of their purchases.

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