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New legislation against Amazon passed by French Senate

Online merchants in France won’t be able anymore to offer free shipments of discounted books. That’s the result of new legislation that was passed last week by the French Senate. The law is designed to protect local bookstores and is unofficially called the anti-Amazon law, as the retail giant gave book discounts along with free shipments, something local bookstores could not appreciate at all.

The new law will not formally take effect until after president Hollande signs it, in the next two weeks, the New York Times writes. Months ago, the National Assembly already voted in favor of the bill. The law is an update to the Lang Law, that saw the light of day in 1981. Under that law books in France were sold at a fixed price, to protect small booksellers from big discount stores and retail chains. There are other countries in Europe that have similar laws, all to protect the small book sellers. France however, did allow for up to 5% discounting on books.

No more free shipping on discounted books
With the new law, any online retailer is prohibited from offering free shipping on discounted titles. So now people can still order books online if they like, but there isn’t any real incentive left to shop online instead of visiting a book store. French Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti was quoted, saying: “This is a sign of our deep attachment to books in this nation. And it demonstrates the belief that France builds itself through its past and its future.”

Filippetti previously attacked Amazon for its “dumping strategy”, for selling books at a loss and for the company’s tax arrangements (minimizing taxes by setting up operations in Luxembourg). The latter is something that has been criticized by many political parties across Europe, altough Amazon insists it’s legal under the European Union’s single market rules.

France has an estimated 3,500 bookstores, about 600 to 800 of which are independent.