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Publication Title

Washington University Law Review

Abstract

Over the years, many European countries have regulated their national book markets. Chief among the regulatory schemes is the resale price maintenance (“RPM”) regime, under which booksellers must offer books for a fixed price for a limited time period. The suggested rationales for this legal regime are mainly: (1) viewing books as cultural goods that deserve special treatment; (2) advancing diversity in the book market; (3) creating a wide distribution of and accessibility to books; and (4) supporting small booksellers. This Article explores the normative rationales for the RPM regime’s adoption and design in book markets. The RPM regime has been discussed and analyzed using a positive economic framework, but its application in reality has been missing a normative theoretical basis. This Article demonstrates that absent such a theoretical basis, policymaking is meaningless. Policymakers as well as courts cannot solely rely on positive economic analysis. Normative analysis is inevitable. This Article explores the missing normative analysis of RPM regimes in the context of book markets. It exposes an important blind spot in regulatory policy and judicial judgment. Lastly, the normative framework introduced in this Article may prove relevant for American RPM arrangements. Since American antitrust scrutiny of RPM schemes recently transformed from a per se rule to a rule of reason analysis, American policymakers and courts are expected to encounter a new wave of resurfacing RPM schemes.

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