It’s been two short weeks since France passed a law banning online-only retailers from offering free shipping in combination with the legally limited 5% price discount, and Amazon is ready to respond.
The retailer has just announced a new policy for shipping books in France. Since they can’t offer free shipping, Amazon is now charging a centime (0.01 euro) for any order of books.
According to the FAQ, Amazons says that “we are unfortunately no longer allowed to offer free deliveries for book orders.” The entry goes on to add: “We have therefore fixed delivery costs at one centime per order containing books and dispatched by Amazon to systematically guarantee the lowest price for your book orders”.
Initially proposed last year, the new French law was passed late last month and went into affect on 8 July. This law expands upon France’s existing book price control law, aka the Lang Law, and is intended to protect France’s small bookstores by putting online-only retailers at a disadvantage. Known as the anti-Amazon law, it prevents online retailers like Amazon from offering free shipping on book orders while still letting retailers like Fnac (which has brick and mortar stores in many countries) offer free shipping from their stores.
It is often wrong to label laws with the name of single companies, but in this case it is accurate. Last year the French Culture Minister, Aurelie Filippetti, singled out Amazon. Repeating the usual anti-Amazon boogieman, she said: “Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up”.
The anti-Amazon focus of the new law has raised some debate on the topic of whether Amazon may be able to appeal before EU courts and get it overturned, but it is too early to say.
image by Alvy