• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

France targets Amazon in bid to protect bookstores

AFP/The Local · 3 Oct 2013, 12:40

Published: 03 Oct 2013 12:40 GMT+02:00

The bill, which was crafted by the main opposition right-wing UMP party but also has the support of lawmakers on the left, aims to put an end to what some criticise as unfair competition for traditional bookstores.

It will seek to restrict the likes of Amazon from combining offers of free deliveries with discounts of up to five percent on books, which is allowed under existing French legislation.

Amazon was scathing in its response. "Any measure aimed at raising the price of books will only reduce French people's spending power and introduce discrimination against online consumers," the company said in a statement to AFP.

The bill was unanimously adopted by France's lower house National Assembly on Thursday and was welcomed by independent bookstores like Shakespeare and Company, in Paris.

In 1981, the government ruled that editors must set a unique selling price for their books in a bid to protect small retailers, and set a limit of five percent on any discount.

"We greatly appreciate the efforts France makes in trying to protect bookstores," Shakespeare and Company's Terry Craven told The Local. "The fixed price law has helped keep us alive, which has not been the case for independent bookstores in other countries, like Britain.

"The interesting thing is that the growth of huge companies like Amazon actually creates new niches for people who look for the exact opposite, like a bookshop that is like a community where people can come in and talk to a human."

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti has criticised Amazon's practices in the past, blasting free deliveries or the firm's policy of "tax optimisation." Filippetti made her feelings towards Amazon quite clear earlier this summer when she said the online retailer "destroys" bookshops.

"Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon, which, by dumping, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them once they have established a virtual monopoly," Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said.

"It is destructive for bookshops," the minister told a conference of booksellers on Monday in the southwestern city of Bordeaux.The American giant reports its European sales through a Luxembourg-based holding company, taking advantage of the tiny Duchy's relatively low corporation tax rates for earnings outside its borders.

SEE ALSO: The 10 best books about France

Amazon insists the arrangement, which has been criticised by politicians across Europe, is legal under the European Union's single market rules.

During the parliamentary debate preceding the vote Thursday, Filippetti blasted Amazon for its "dumping strategy" and for selling books at a loss.

"Once they are in a dominant position and will have crushed our network of bookshops, they will bring prices back up," she said. 

Christian Kert, a lawmaker from the main opposition right-wing UMP who tabled the bill, said online retailing was the only sector in the book market that was on the rise.

"It's hard for independent bookstores to find their place as their return on investment is very low," he said.

The French government has recently been at loggerheads with a number of American companies including Google, Yahoo! and Apple.

Last week, for instance, the country's data protection watchdog announced it would take action against Google for failing to comply with national privacy guidelines - a process that could see the US giant fined €150,000 ($204,000).

The French are not just protective over independent bookshops. They are also very protective about their language against the influence of English. The move to protect French is an ongoing battle for the language police.

Check out this list of Ten of the latest English Terms the language police want barred from French.

Story continues below…

 

Don't miss a story about France - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France charges Charlie Hebdo killer’s relative
The suspect was charged after being handed over to French authorities by Bulgaria. Dimitar Dilkoff /AFP

The brother-in-law of one of the jihadists who attacked French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last year faced terrorism charges on Saturday for allegedly trying to join Islamic State fighters in Syria, a judicial source said.

French mayors dismiss suspended burqini ban
Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet /AFP

The row over France’s burqini ban continues with several mayors vowing to keep restrictions in place despite the country’s top court suspending the ban in the resort town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

France's top court suspends burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court has suspended a town's ban on wearing the full-body burqini swimsuit.

Milk price raised, but French farmers still unhappy
The sign on the tractor reads 'We're dying', as farmers blocked Lactalis dairy headquarters. Photo: AFP

Milk prices have been raised by France's biggest dairy group to placate farmers, but unions say their demands have not been met.

Burqini bans 'dividing France's Muslim women'
Photo: AFP

The burqini bans have divided France, but they have also left Muslim women in France in two groups, argues a professor who has spent years studying the impact of the burqa.

Pizza-delivery drones could be on their way to France
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's your pizza. Photo: AFP

No more need to deal with grumpy French waiters...

Heatwave drags on as France faces red-hot weekend
Photo: AFP

France will see searing temperatures on Friday and Saturday, as the heatwave warnings have been extended (once again).

Nice: The French capital of burqini fines
The beach in the Riviera city of Nice. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

It's one of only two of the 30 towns with a burqini ban in place to have actually given out any fines.

How to make France's famed Île Flottante dessert
Photo: Paul Oatway

France-based food blogger Laura Tobin shares her recipe for this delicious French dessert.

France's top court set to rule on burqini ban
Photo: bellmon1/Flickr

France's highest administrative court will decide this afternoon whether to overturn the burqini ban.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
2,755
jobs available