Amazon Side-Steps French Ban on Free Book Deliveries – Now Charges a Centime for Shipping
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
Chris Meadows July 11, 2014 um 10:36 am
Well, that seems like an amusingly obvious loophole. It especially warms the cockles of my heart imagining French legislators' reaction to how easily Amazon is sidestepping the bill they put so much work into passing.
Nate Hoffelder July 11, 2014 um 11:06 am
Yes, it is obvious. One commenter pointed it out within hours of my posting that story a couple weeks ago.
TheGreatFilter July 11, 2014 um 10:50 am
My guess is that the French won’t put up with it. It’s okay playing whack-a-mole with the law in the USA and the UK, and maybe Germany. The French will just get pissed and come down very hard.
Hayden July 11, 2014 um 11:19 am
My initial reaction to this post
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
You make stupid rules, stand on your soap boxes and make big statements,
only leads to a bigger humiliation.
I am not in favour of Amazon being able to compete when they put their head offices in tax havens, but this type of legislation is an absolute joke. Sort out your tax haven laws and you will find that booksellers will be competing on a much more level playing field instead of an artificially created one. The problem is that many French companies also benefit from the tax havens
jjj July 12, 2014 um 6:23 am
If Amazon had any decency they would respect the spirit of a law. Guess corporations don’t have a conscience and are always more than happy to cheat if it’s legal.
Anyway it’s a stupid move to escalate a fight you can’t win and they won’t gain any good will when it comes to bigger matters like tax avoidance.
Felipe Adan Lerma July 12, 2014 um 2:09 pm
I’d feel better if all governments let companies compete –
Imagine $15 (US) wines from France for less than $5 🙂
Or, almost as importantly 🙂 cars without import taxes of $5000 or more.
It’s not just France’s government, it’s ours also; and we pay the price.
Then again, the biggest question, who gets these bills passed, and why are regular people not more informed about the consequences and bilateral fairness?
But we kinda know the answers to most of that 🙂