- Making Materiality Matter
- A sociological analysis of price formation on the Dutch fiction book market, 1980-2009
- Socio-Economic Review
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article analyzes determinants of prices in the Dutch fiction book market between 1980 and 2009. It does so on the basis of interviews with editors of large publishing houses and regression analysis of a dataset that contains prices and their determinants of over 80 000 fiction books. We show that material properties such as the size, binding and number of pages of a book are the strongest predictors of price. This is surprising, because the actual paper and printing costs constitute only a small fraction of the sales price. Publishers, we argue, set prices as if material properties matter. The advantage of relying on these material properties is that publishers can manipulate them through their main pricing device, the profit and loss statement. Moreover, relying on materiality instead of quality when pricing goods allows publishers to create market order and to make their prices seem fair to consumers. In one respect, quality is factored into price aswell: publishers use genre as a judgement device when setting prices. As a result, the dominant status hierarchy is reproduced through prices.
If you believe that digital publication of certain material infringes any of your rights or (privacy) interests, please let the Library know, stating your reasons. In case of a legitimate complaint, the Library will make the material inaccessible and/or remove it from the website. Please Ask the Library, or send a letter to: Library of the University of Amsterdam, Secretariat, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You will be contacted as soon as possible.