France sets minimum book delivery fees in anti-Amazon fight | France

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France plans to impose a minimum delivery charge of €3 for online book orders of less than €35 to level the playing field for independent bookstores struggling to compete with e-commerce companies, the government said. government.

A 2014 French law prohibits free book deliveries, but Amazon and other vendors, such as Fnac, have circumvented this by charging just 1¢. Local bookstores usually charge up to €7 for shipping.

Legislation was passed in December 2021 to close the 1¢ loophole through a minimum shipping charge, but could not come into effect until the government decided on the amount of that charge.

“This will adapt the book industry to the digital age by restoring a balance between the large e-commerce platforms, which offer almost free delivery of books regardless of the size of the order, and bookstores which cannot match these delivery prices,” the culture and finance ministries said. .

They added that France would inform the European Commission of its plan and that the minimum delivery charge would take effect six months after EU approval.

The Ministry of Culture said the €3 fee – including tax – could not be circumvented by customer loyalty schemes or joint purchases of books with other items.

He added that for orders worth more than €35, online sellers could still offer a penny delivery charge.

“The 3 euro delivery charge… is not a deterrent for book buyers and the 35 euro threshold will encourage group orders, which is virtuous from an environmental point of view”, specify the ministries.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The online retail giant said a flat shipping fee would punish those in rural areas who cannot easily visit a bookstore and rely on delivery.

Bookstores in France survived the rise of Amazon thanks to a 1981 law that banned discounts on the prices of new books, but they say the US online giant’s ability to cut them on shipping still distorts the market .

The French bookstore association SLF said in a statement on Friday that the €3 fee was insufficient because it means bookstores will continue to sell at a loss when shipping books to customers quickly. He called on the government to lower French postage costs for shipping books through bookstores.

More than 20% of the 435 million books sold in France in 2019 were purchased online, and the market share of France’s 3,300 independent bookstores is slowly declining due to competition from online retailers like Amazon, Fnac and Leclerc.

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