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Working paper

Are books luxury goods in Russia or not?

ACEI Working Paper Series. AWP. Association for Cultural Economics International, 2017. No. AWP-06-2017.
In the times of Soviet Union books were a luxury good. This paper examines whether books are still a luxury good in Russia. For this purpose data from one of the Russian book retail chains is used to empirically estimate a general book demand and separate demand models for genres. We focus on estimating income elasticity. For this reason we construct a covariate on the basis of monthly wages of working individuals that reveals consumer income. Moreover, this paper is one of the few which addresses in detail the influence of books content quality on book demand. The main result is that books on average are not luxury goods anymore in Russia. However two genres: foreign prose and poetry are exceptions and can be called luxury goods. We also conclude that quality control covariates (book rating and number of people who rated the book) are important determinants of book demand as they influence significantly the general book demand and the demand models for different genres as well.