The book culture that is Iceland should not surprise the Coasean

For Tunglið, how you publish is as important as what you publish. Named after the Icelandic word for the moon, the tiny publisher prints its books in batches of 69 on the night of a full moon. So far, so weird. But keen readers must also buy their books that same night, as the publisher burns all unsold copies. Weirder still.

Why? While most books can survive centuries or even millennia, Tunglið – as its two employees tell me – “uses all the energy of publishing to fully charge a few hours instead of spreading it out over centuries … For one glorious evening, the book and its author are fully alive. And then, the morning after, everyone can get on with their lives.”

Here is the full story, and here is background information on durable good monopoly and the returns to rendering output less durable, as a means of precommitting to not lowering the price in later periods.  Avoid remainders, in other words, so customers will buy it now.  Guess who first came up with those insights?


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