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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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More about the Encouragement of Learning

The Statute of Anne makes for interesting reading.

For instance, if books were perceived as overpriced, any individual could make a complaint to the authorities (among them the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Court, the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge). Booksellers and printers could be summoned to justify the "reason of dearness." If the price was found to be excessive, the authorities could, "limit and settle the price for every such printed book."

And for each book printed, "nine copies upon the best paper," were to be reserved for "the Royal Library, the Libraries of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Libraries of the Four Universities in Scotland, the Library of Sion College in London, and the Library commonly called the Library belonging to the Faculty of Advocates at Edinburgh." If delivery of books did not take place within ten days after receiving a demand from a library, the offender was fined five pounds (per book).

What would five pounds in 1710 be equivalent to today?


Comments

Law and reality:

1. There is not one case known, that someone ever made use of the price control. It was abolished in 1739.

2. The "nine copies upon the best paper" were--in general--not delivered to the libraries.

3. Five pounds have been much money. A sailor got about 20 pounds a year, journeymen 25 to 35 pounds.

Meera:

5 pounds in 1710 would be equivalent to about 597 pounds today using the retail price index for the United Kingdom. However, that may or may not be a good index. I tried the same calculation in the U.S. as far back as I could (1800). $1 in 1800 is about $13 today. So 597 pounds might be an exaggeration.

In any case, based on current exchange rates, 597 pounds is somewhere around $800 or $900, I think. Multiply by 9 and you have a chunk of change.


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