Dollars and Books Revisited

As now, the dollar was in general decline against some currencies during September 2007. The Euro was strong against the dollar; the British pound reached $2 per pound and the Canadian dollar reached 1 to 1 parity with the dollar.

I have always kept track of the U.S./Canadian dollars by comparing the two prices inside new book dust covers. I wrote about this here on October 4, 2007 in a post titled McTeer on Dollars and Books.

Chairman Greenspan’s book, The Age of Turbulence, was released on September 17, 2007, priced at U.S. $35.00 and Canada $43.50. That was a 24 percent difference despite the parity in the exchange markets that month. His publisher obviously didn’t think the parity would hold.

The Prince of Darkness by Robert Novak had come in with a little earlier with a 27 percent difference. Other books I bought around that time had a similar premium on the dollar, the lowest being 21 percent.

With dollar weakness again in the news, I’ve done a bit of empirical research on my recent purchases. A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers by Lawrence G. McDonald and Patrick Robinson is priced at $27.00 U.S. and $33.00 Canadian. That’s a 22 percent premium for the U.S. dollar, in line with two years ago.

In Fed we Trust by David Wessel is priced at $26.99 U.S. and $33.99 Canadian. That’s a 26 percent premium, still in the middle of the range of two years ago. So was Glenn Beck’s, Arguing With Idiots, (a gift) at 23 percent–$29.99 U.S. and $36.99 Canadian.

This Time is Different, Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, by Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff was a gift from my son who was vastly overestimating my scholarship and patience. Speaking of patience, Ken Rogoff and I once spent a week in London one afternoon visiting financial firms there. He was a delightful guy and great company for a professor at a school that doesn’t have a good football team. Anyway the publisher of Ken’s book apparently punted on the exchange rate question. The price was $35.00 U.S. with no Canadian price listed. I’d better not speculate, so that’s all I have to say about that.

Hold on. Stop the presses. I just bought Charles Gasparino’s The Sellout. Same thing: A USA price of $27.99 with no Canadian price.

Do I have to have a conclusion?  What about “The dollar hasn’t really lost any value in the last two years in terms of books, but some publishers are backing away.”

Comments (4)

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  1. Nemo says:

    Does Canada impose import duties on books? If not, maybe we can make some free money in “book arbitrage”…

  2. sauerc says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter….I think.

    This is a great method of exchange rate forecasting! I have always been a fan of the Big Mac Index, but I might become a convert.

    Thanks.

  3. Joe says:

    Isn’t there also a 5 percent Value Added Tax included in the price of books sold in Canada?

  4. Mark says:

    Or maybe it is because Canadians in general don’t like Gasparino…had to give them an incentive to buy the book… I like him, but he’s a love him or hate him kind of guy…

    Not that they would ever choose to, but I don’t know that there is a country who would benefit more from dollarization than Canada…