The most boring book in the world

I have discovered the most boring book in the world and it’s a bestseller.

I forced myself to read parts of it recently. It is expensive: 120 Euros and profitable for the publisher. It has 607 pages. Its style is perfectly adapted to make one fall asleep after reading a couple of paragraphs. But even here it fails. It is so heavy that as soon as sleep comes on, it falls to the floor, waking one up with a start. Awake again to read on!

The title of this book is OECD Transfer Pricing Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and Tax Administrations, July 2017. You really don’t want to read it even if you know what ‘transfer pricing’ is.

And yet how can I write about it and not be boring myself. Mission impossible.

Let’s start with the title of Chapter 1: ‘The Arm’s Length Principle.’

This section has nothing to do with measuring the distance between the wrist and the shoulder of a human being. The term ‘length of an arm’ was shortened back in the 14th century to ‘arm’s length’, when it seems to have obtained an additional meaning, that of independence or lack of intimacy. So it has been around for more than 450 years.

The OECD then made it into a principle. They could have called it ‘The Principle of the Length of an Arm’ or ‘The Principle of the Weight of a Leg.’ But no, they chose the shortened version which, it is true, does sound better: ‘The Arm’s Length Principle.’ I think they thought that the non-literal meaning of independence was more relevant.

The OECD then takes all of Chapter 1 and over 60 pages to explain what this new principle is, as it applies to transfer pricing. How about that?  That fact alone tells you how boring this is going to be so I will stop here.