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The Most Surprising Amazon Best-Seller I’ve Seen in a While…

… is an e-book version of the North American Business Islamic Directory. One likely reason it’s ranked so high on Amazon is the price: one cent. (So much for my support of the penny’s extinction.) But does anyone have any idea why this unusual book is ranked, as of this writing, at No. 5?

In related news on book pricing, Mexican president Vincente Fox vetoed a bill that would have required all bookstores in Mexico to charge the same price for a given book. As it turns out, Freakonomics figured in the government’s argument. Here’s an excerpt from the Dow Jones wire report:

The Federal Competition Commission, or CFC, said the single price would be counterproductive to promoting reading and tantamount to price-fixing. It said international experience showed a single book price causes retail prices to rise by as much as 30%.

Proponents had argued the opposite, saying that while in the U.K. the elimination of the single price had caused book prices to rise above the rate of inflation, Germany with its single price system had “the most solid publishing industry in the world.”

In a presentation last month, the CFC took two books supplied by – “Freakonomics” and “Don Quijote de la Mancha” – to show that prices excluding taxes and shipping were higher on average in Germany, France and Japan, which have single book prices, than in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., which have free pricing.

I had no idea that Germany, France, and Japan have uniform book pricing, or that the U.K. used to. Beyond that, I guess we should feel happy that our book has been used in a successful free-market defense. Most of all, I love getting lumped in with Don Quijote, since I sometimes think of Levitt as a windmill tilter, which might make me a bit of Sancho Panza, though not quite as corpulent.