Amazon appeals plans for €3 minimum delivery fee for books in France

It said France’s move, aimed at protecting independent bookshops, would be a ‘severe blow’ to people’s budgets

The European Commission has also cast doubt on the €3 minimum delivery fee for book orders under €35
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E-commerce giant Amazon has announced it is challenging the French government’s move to introduce a minimum delivery fee for online book purchases.

It lodged an appeal with France’s highest administrative court - Conseil d'État - citing ‘excess of power’ over the suggested changes, which would see a minimum delivery fee of €3 for book orders under €35.

The changes stem from a December 2021 publication aimed at encouraging French people to shop at their local bookstores instead of ordering books online.

Amazon called it “a severe blow to the budget of the French people.”

In February, the European Commission approved the measure. Nevertheless, it cast doubts on the decree over whether it will explicitly help local bookstores.

Read also: Why ordering books online in France will become more expensive

Drive to protect independent bookstores

Online delivery fees for books are only €0.01, thanks to a measure implemented during Covid to encourage people to order books through their local bookstores, to help keep them afloat.

It was applied for book orders from small- and medium-sized businesses, with the government covering the remainder of delivery costs.

The €0.01 fee will be maintained for online orders of more than €35.

The increase of the delivery fee to €3 for smaller orders is aimed at encouraging people to return to the high street to buy their books, more specifically to local bookshops.

Despite this aim, the European Commission said in February it was unsure how the changes would “maintain a dense and diversified network" of bookshops and prop up "the diversity and quality of the publishing offer.”

It also said the French government failed to “provide an assessment of alternative, less restrictive measures” that would not impact online suppliers.

The move is one of a number of measures introduced by successive governments to protect independent bookstores – of which there are more than 3,500 in France – seen as a key element of France’s literary heritage.

Read more: A record number of French bookshops opened last year

‘Readers and authors penalised’

The e-commerce giant already cast doubt on the measure when it was announced, but only announced its intention to take the case to court this week.

Introducing the fee “will penalise readers, authors and reading in general,” and “limit their access to books,” said Frédéric Duval, Managing Director of Amazon France.

Specifically, Amazon highlights its importance in improving access to literature in areas without bookshops.

“Almost one book in two sold by Amazon is sent to small towns and rural areas, i.e. areas that often have no bookshop,” the company said in a press release.

The company did state it was in favour of introducing a “dedicated postal tariff” for delivery costs.

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