Anti-Amazon law backed

Senators defend traditional bookshops, saying internet sales giant cannot combine free delivery and book discounts

9 January 2014

AMAZON has been targeted in a new law to protect France’s 3,500 traditional bookstores as senators backed an amendment banning sellers from combining free delivery with discounted books.

MPs have already voted in favour of the law, which was supported unanimously by senators, and will now vote it through when it comes up for second reading. It toughens the 1981 Loi Lang, which said that book prices could only be discounted by 5%.

Free and speedy delivery is one of the key selling points of Amazon, but traditional bookshops have hit back saying that their own customers already get free and immediate delivery and that Amazon is swamping competition by “dumping” its products on the market – especially given its position of paying little tax – and even managing to negotiate heavy discounts from La Poste.

While Amazon is the market leader in internet sales, the law will also hit the likes of Fnac which has successfully challenged its position – so much so, that if you put a book title into Google the search engine will spit out details of both Amazon and Fnac.

France has one of the greatest concentrations of bookshops in the world, with 3,500 traditional libraries - including up to 800 independents, which have no link to publishers, distributors or chains – while there are only around 1,000 bookshops in the UK.

Internet book sales have soared in recent years, hitting 17% of sales in 2012 – and Amazon has 70% of that market in France.

Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti has already accused the American giant of “dumping” its books on the market and “selling at a loss” so that, when the traditional bookstores have been “destroyed,” they will raise prices.

Amazon said its previous comments still stood, that “Any measure raising the price of books on the Internet will hurt the purchasing power of French people first and foremost."

*Google has been fined a record €150,000 by the data watchdog Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés for refusing to abide by French law on the confidentiality of personal data. The internet giant has already by fined €900,000 by the Spanish data watchdog for the same offence of tracking and storing information on users.

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