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What Do Books and Roses Say About Discounting?

There is a Catalan custom of men giving women and girls red roses on St. George’s Day (April 23), while women traditionally give men and boys a book on that day.

My guide mentioned that the books are always sold to the (female) buyer at a 10 percent discount below the regular price; when asked whether the roses are discounted, she said, “No way!” Typically most roses are imported for this peak load time from the Netherlands and are even sold at a premium.

I can understand why this is true for roses — the demand curve is further right, so the market equilibrates on April 23 at a higher price.

But why the book discount? One would think that the book demand is also at a peak. Is it the booksellers’ attempt to woo customers for repeat visits during the year (something that is less likely with infrequently purchased flowers)? Is it altruism toward female buyers (which seems highly unlikely to me)? Tough to answer.