October 28, 2013

French Law Protects bookstores from Amazon

Shakespeare and Co bookstore at dusk. Quartier Latin, Paris, France

The French government is taking legal steps to protect the country’s independent booksellers from large corporate booksellers like Amazon. France currently limits discounts on books to, thanks to a law passed in 1981, all books be sold at the same price everywhere and discounts cannot rise above 5 percent.  This past month, France’s lower house parliament passed a bill prohibiting Amazon from offering both a 5 percent discount and free deliver on books.   Amazon spent $2.8 billion on free shipping worldwide last year to gain a competitive advantage.

The bill limiting Amazon’s price reductions in France still has to pass the Senate to become law.   Lynn Cohen-Solal, the deputy mayor in charge of independent commerce, says the city tries to keep a core of 300 independent bookstores.  ”We have to keep our identity,” she says, “because if we don’t, all the shops are exactly the same in Paris, in London, in New York, in New Delhi, everywhere.”

In a statement, Amazon said any effort to raise the price of books diminishes the cultural choices of French consumers and penalizes both Internet users and small publishers who rely on Internet sales.

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