November 5, 2010
France sets fixed-price law governing ebook sales
by Melville House
A mobilization by French publishers at last month’s Frankfurt Book Fair has proven successful: Last Tuesday the French Senate voted for a law imposing a fixed price on eBooks for sale within French territory — that is, just as with print books in France, everyone has to sell a given ebook for the same price. No discounting.
The announcement, as reported by the website Actualitte, has brought a notable relief to those concerned about the protection of author’s rights while reassuring French booksellers that there will be no change in fixed price laws for eBooks.
Nevertheless the Senate’s decision has created some controversies. L’ADULLACT, l’AFUL and la FFII– all French associations involved in the use of free software — hope that an amendment will soon preserve open source offerings that will otherwise be heavily handicapped by this regulation. They refer to a report signed by Bruno Patino (former director of the French National Book Center) advocating for a disposition that would empower each rights owner in the pricing process.
In his blog post, Le Peuple des connecteurs, Thierry Crouzet protests that fixing book prices guarantees huge margins to distribution channels and more precisely to chains that already benefit from larger bargaining ability than indie bookstores.
Francois Bon–French writer and editor of publie.net, a website for experimental literary prose–claims publishers should embrace the possibilities offered by the digital era and reinvent their relationship to readers. For instance, he wishes readers could subscribe to publishers’s catalogue instead of buying titles one by one.
Then again, there’s no such thing as a law pleasing each and every French person.