A new bill which recommends imposing a fixed minimum price for the delivery of books in France, in a bid to level the playing field between e-commerce giants and independent bookshops, has been passed by the French Sénat.
The fee will be fixed by the Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes, as well as the Economy and Culture Ministries. It is expected to be between €2 and €5.
Websites such as Amazon and la Fnac often dodge their obligation to impose a delivery fee by charging just €0.01, effectively making their prices cheaper than those of physical bookshops, which are not big enough to waive such fees.
According to the Syndicat de la libraire française bookseller collective, sending a book order by post costs a shop €6.50-€7.
Géraldine Bannier, the La République en Marche! MP who proposed the bill to the Assemblée nationale, claims that this undercutting goes against a 1981 law (the Loi Lang), which established a fixed price for books and limits on discounts in order to control competition and protect the bookshop industry.
The bill must pass through the Sénat once more on December 16, before being made law, but it is highly unlikely that it would be rejected at this stage. It was already passed unanimously by the Assemblée nationale in October.
The law should come into effect over the course of 2022.
Amazon France director Frédéric Duval, has previously argued that this change will “penalise the distribution of books across our country.
“More than half of books bought on Amazon are bought by residents of towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants, and more than a quarter by residents of villages with less than 2,000 inhabitants.
“For them, online shopping is often the only practical solution. If this bill is passed, they will be confronted with a simple alternative: read less or suffer a hit to their buying power.”
La Fnac, on the other hand, has expressed its “full support” for the new law, which, it says, constitutes a step towards “a more responsible consumption.”