Online bookstores tend to be more successful than traditional ones by offering free delivery services, but France wants to level out the playing field.
French lawmakers want to protect brick and mortar bookstores from major online retailers like Amazon. A bill intended to help out independent booksellers by setting a fixed minimum delivery rate for books was presented before the National Assembly on September 29.
The new law, which was drafted by the Senate and is backed by president Emmanuel Macron, would make it illegal for Amazon and other retail giants to continue shipping books for free.
“Small booksellers face costs that are far away from those of major retailers,” said Géraldine Bannier, who is in charge of the bill. She argues that Amazon forces traditional booksellers to choose between paying for delivery themselves or charging their customers, which could also result in losing a sale.
An article on the Politico website reports that the market share of France’s independent bookshops decreased by almost 3 percent because of competition from online retailers between 2006 and 2019.
Critics believe that rural areas with little access to bookshops could be harmed by higher delivery rates.
French lawmakers have been protecting brick and mortar book shops for many years and have allowed the industry to thrive. A law from 1981 orders that books be sold at a fixed price and cannot be discounted at more than 5 percent.
According to the Ministry of Culture, there are around 20,000 different sellers and 3,500 independent bookstores in France today.
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