• France edition
 
France targets Amazon in bid to protect bookstores
French lawmakers to target Amazon in bid to protect independent book stores. Photo: Aurelijus Valeisa/flickr

France targets Amazon in bid to protect bookstores

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

 

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

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

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Champions League
PSG drawn in same group as Barcelona
Photo: AFP

PSG drawn in same group as Barcelona

PSG were paired with Barcelona in Group F of the Champions League when the draw for the group stages was made on Thursday. France's other representative Monaco were handed a much easier draw, at least on paper. READ  

Guest blog - France Profonde
France profonde: Rural idyll or backwater hell?
Life in Rural France: Is it heaven or hell or just what you make of it? Photo: Shutterstock

France profonde: Rural idyll or backwater hell?

Does life in rural France offer the peace and quiet that you've always dreamed about or is it a quick route to loneliness and isolation? Annecy-based writer Amaryllis Barton takes a closer look. READ  

Calais migrants crisis
France to demand UK help ease Calais crisis
France says they'll be no new shelter for migrants in Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

France to demand UK help ease Calais crisis

France's Interior Minister has dismissed the prospect of a new mass shelter in Calais to house homeless migrants trying to smuggle themselves into the UK. But the so-called top cop plans to ask British authorities to "accept their responsibilities" for the ongoing crisis. READ  

Pitt and Jolie tie the knot secretly in France
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie marry in France in a low-key ceremony. Photo: AFP

Pitt and Jolie tie the knot secretly in France

Celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married in secret in France at the weekend in a low key ceremony at their château. It was in stark contrast to Kanye West's and Kim Kardashian's pre-nuptial celebrations in Paris earlier this year. READ  

Ex-French cop blasts Diana's 'DIY' security
An ex-French cop has bashed the 'inadequate' security Diana had the night she was killed in Paris. Photo: John Stillwell/AFP

Ex-French cop blasts Diana's 'DIY' security

In his new book the ex-Paris cop who guarded Princess Diana’s corpse the night she was killed, says the “icon” had an inadequate “DIY” security detail which contributed to the tragic outcome. READ  

The French words you can't translate literally
Can you let me know where I can buy a "throat support"? Bra photo: Shutterstock

The French words you can't translate literally

The French language has a plethora of words that if you translated literally into English could cause a fair bit of confusion and hilarity for language learners. From "throat support" to "mouth fun", we've picked out some of the best. Let us know of any more. READ  

Air France pilots set for week-long strike
Air France pilots have warned of a major strike in September. Photo: Tab59/Flickr

Air France pilots set for week-long strike

More travel chaos could be on the way now that Air France pilots have said they will strike for at least a week in September over their concerns about a reorganization of the international carrier. READ  

Netflix to film French 'House of Cards'
Netflix is going to make a House of Cards-like political thriller in France. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty/AFP

Netflix to film French 'House of Cards'

France’s gritty port city of Marseille will be the setting for a Netflix original series that will bear a strong resemblance to the streaming service’s massive hit "House of Cards". The news comes on the eve of Netflix’s arrival in France. READ  

Hollande: Assad is no anti-jihadist ally of West
Assad is no ally of the West says Hollande. Photo: AFP

Hollande: Assad is no anti-jihadist ally of West

President François Hollande declared on Thursday that Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad is not a partner of the West in the battle against Islamist extremists in Syria and Iraq, but an ally of the jihadists. READ  

French minister wants easing of 35-hour week
Could France soon scrap its 35-hour week? Photo: Daniel Janin/AFP

French minister wants easing of 35-hour week

Could France soon ditch its sacred, but oft-ridiculed 35-hour work week? New Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron says he is in favour of at least making the rules more flexible. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Culture
VIDEO: Francophile Robin Williams enjoyed poking fun at the French
Travel
Six reasons why France is the world's top tourist destination
International
Remembering the 'forgotten campaign' in the liberation of France
Gallery
VIDEO: French bucket list - The 12 best things to do in France
International
Do three French cities deserve to be in top 10 "World 's Most Unfriendly"?
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se