June 24, 2013

France wants to ban Amazon’s free delivery & discounts

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French culture minister Aurélie Filippett is the best culture minister.

Last we heard, France’s culture minister, Aurelie Filippetti (the coolest minister in Europe), had declared war on Amazon and €9m worth of support for the country’s independent bookstores.

Now Filippetti has proposed some specific initiatives to counteract what she regards as Amazon’s unfair competitive advantage. In addition to the fund, the minister aims to introduce laws banning both Amazon’s free delivery of books and its large discounts.

Per Reuters, Filippetti said,

“”I’m in favor of ending the possibility of offering both free delivery and a five percent discount,” she told BFM news television on Friday. “We need a law, so we’re going to find a legislative window to introduce one.””

The move would prevent Amazon from circumventing France’s ban on booksellers discounting more than 5% from the sale price set by the publisher. French booksellers argue that Amazon’s discounts and free shipping allows it to offer deals that no other retailer, large or small, can even contemplate. Many observers of the online shopping giant believe that Amazon makes a loss on free shipping, but is willing to wear that cost in order to overwhelm the competition.

Guillaume Husson, spokesman for the SLF book retailers’ union, told Reuters that,

“Today, the competition is unfair… No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money.”

France’s strong protection of its artistic and literary industries is a longstanding tradition, but as British and American bookstores consider the ways in which they can survive under Amazon, they might be hoping for a champion like Aurelie Filippetti.

 

Ariel Bogle is a former publicist at Melville House.

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