Business

Amazon fights France’s ‘anti-Amazon’ law with 1 cent shipping

Image Credit: Illustration by Eric Blattberg / VentureBeat

Amazon can no longer offer free shipping for books in France, so it’s charging a single penny.

The token charge is Amazon’s retaliation against a new French law, enacted Thursday, that bars online booksellers from discounting their titles or offering free deliveries for book orders.

Nicknamed the anti-Amazon law, the measure is designed to protect France’s local bookstores, which face intense competition from larger chains and online retailers. French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti called the legislation “a sign of the deep commitment of the nation to books.”

Since 1981, France has banned booksellers from discounting the cover price of new books more than 5%, an effort to discourage price wars between large retail chains and their smaller rivals. Now Amazon and other online retailers can’t even implement that modest discounts on books.

Amazon’s French site explains the ramifications of the new law and the company’s reaction on its “frequently asked questions” page.

Because of the new law, “we are unfortunately not allowed to offer a 5% discount on the price of books,” Amazon France explains.

“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.”

More information:

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where cu... read more »

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44 comments
Nitin Bansal
Nitin Bansal

Was this not anti-competitive of French government? Where the hell are laws now? Oh I forgot, it is by the law

Katherine G. Osborne
Katherine G. Osborne

Try to be a little less of a stereotypical Frenchman. I might have agreed with what you were saying but since you came off like a pompous ass I didn't finish reading your comment and completely wrote you off. I'm sure others do the same.

Alex Wakeman
Alex Wakeman

If they taxed coca-cola for dental bills people would have better teeth!

Alex Wakeman
Alex Wakeman

You're saying if it wasn't for corporations, people would still have polio and bad teeth? Almost all innovation starts with small time firms or single individuals making breakthroughs... corporations have nothing to do with it... You think having no more bookshops is good?

Alex Wakeman
Alex Wakeman

Good on the French for standing up to the big greedy and all-powerful corporations... Amazon needs competition anyway, and towns and cities will no longer have closed down book shops for browsing like a normal modern human being.

Net Waterfish
Net Waterfish

Do you know how amazon treats their warehouse pickers ?

Kirk Knobelspiesse
Kirk Knobelspiesse

And if they looked at the impact of amazon on independent bookstores in the US they would realize that those bookstores have been doing just fine. It is only the large book selling chains that have suffered the competition.

Al Jungle
Al Jungle

G̶e̶r̶m̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶ Amazon: 7, B̶r̶a̶z̶i̶l̶ ̶ France: 1

Yann Metz-Pasquier
Yann Metz-Pasquier

Trying to have other stores compete equally with amazon which don't pay the same taxes as other businesses in the country (because fiscally located in Luxembourg) is a good thing. All the people commenting, try to educate yourself before speaking. The reason why France is the second/third biggest movie producer in the world or why we are one of the countries where our music industry was not totally destroyed by the American industry is because of laws like that. It's not mean to destroy Amazon, which is an amazing business, but to have all businesses compete equally. This week, on the same subject, the economist wrote an article about why we are one of the only countries left with book stores... Working in a startup in the Bay Area, I understand innovation and its benefits, but I a also recognize that having a society powered only by amazon is sad. Welcome to 1984 or excuse me, corporate America :)

Markus Aurelius Harunicus
Markus Aurelius Harunicus

Billy, your history is pretty strong. But history has shown that if the USA had not succeeded on their own. The British would have kicked us out a while back. See the history of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand for examples. And honestly, so they gave us a statue. Big whoop. Just because they did us a solid 200+ years ago, doesn't mean we can't bag on them for their shitty laws and shitty gov't. We do it to our Government, why should the French be immune to our ridicule too?

Markus Aurelius Harunicus
Markus Aurelius Harunicus

Smart Business: 1 Retarded, backwards, gov't: 0 Suck it France with your stupid anti-business, anti-innovation laws and rules.

Xacobe Vilas G
Xacobe Vilas G

This is the perfect example of what happens in the XXI century when octogenarian lawmakers still mess up with their XIX century sense of reality.

Thomas France
Thomas France

6 months to create a law, 1 day to bypass it

Henny van der Pluijm
Henny van der Pluijm

The patriotism in this thread is a bit sick, but I root for Amazon in this conflict.

Axel Tasciyan
Axel Tasciyan

Well in 2014 sanofi pasteur, a french pharma corp, is top 1 polio vaccin supplier.

David Worle
David Worle

Oh how I miss the days of $500 hand made shoes. I wish the French government could go back in time and stop the industrial age. Sure we'd all have polio, rotting teeth and dirt floors but all our local shops would be safe.

Carol Steinfeld
Carol Steinfeld

Powells.com, BN.com, etc. are far better for publishers. I'm printing in China this year due to Amazon.

Jabari Henderson-Brown
Jabari Henderson-Brown

I would say BN and Borders put small bookstores out of business and Amazon is putting them out of business. That said I think there now a space again for small neighborhood bookstores

Billy Dukelow
Billy Dukelow

I didn't assume anything. I compared the term "fucking socialists" to a Rush Limbaugh like cry, but never "assumed" you watched one particular news network or another. I do assume that you are intelligent and know that my argument here is about having some class and accepting that which does not concern you (Democratic choices of the people of France), even if you disagree. You can debate the merits of one system over another without resulting to insulting remarks. @Justin: Freedom of speech (as it relates to the US constitution) refers to the peoples right to question and protest their government.

Edouard Karst
Edouard Karst

I guess if you consider it socialist to prevent a conglomerate from underselling to try to bankrupt all the small businesses selling books in their communities, socialism sounds pretty fucking good!

Nevram Norman
Nevram Norman

What they lose in books they easily make up in other categories. Practically everything is available on there.

Andrew Weilbacher
Andrew Weilbacher

Once again, you are just making assumptions. You honestly believe that I just watch Fox News all day JUST because I said "fucking socialists"? If I said, "down with those evil corporations!", would you think I watched CNN all day? I'm just going to ignore this now.

Billy Dukelow
Billy Dukelow

Again, the decisions made in France have no impact on you or your life. Your tactless Limbaughesque cries of "fucking socialists" are lost outside of US shores. I really don't understand how you can possibly take offence to decisions made and legislation passed in a country you don't even live in.

Andrew Weilbacher
Andrew Weilbacher

Although, the French were the first ones to apply an aggressive inheritance tax, so this actually might apply to aggregates of wealth in a more general sense at that time. Try not to make a fools of yourselves next time with red herrings and ad hominem, ok?

Andrew Weilbacher
Andrew Weilbacher

lol Jeez, the assumptions flow freely! I was referencing the harassment of companies in France which comes from their populist sentiment. I'm sure this doesn't apply to the 18th century, but you're free to say what you'd like.

Jimmy N Nguyen
Jimmy N Nguyen

Oh Billy, what do you expect from someone who just regurgitates Fox News instead of remembering a little bit of history?

Billy Dukelow
Billy Dukelow

If it weren't for the French the US might still be part of the British commonwealth. You owe victory at Yorktown and, as a result, your independence to the French. That beacon of liberty that resides in New York's upper bay is a gift from the French. You may not agree with the French peoples choice of government or politics, but the least you could do is exercise a little class.

Georges van Hoegaerden
Georges van Hoegaerden

The day we are concluding price-fixing as a viable mechanism to support a free-market (of books or otherwise) is the day we have lost our minds. Can we agree that day has arrived?

Carol Steinfeld
Carol Steinfeld

Amazon is an example of why we shouldn't blindly follow the lowest price. It has taken a loss for years to put bookstores and brick-and-mortar stores out of business, and we lap it up. It screws book publishers, taking the highest discount for small orders, forcing us to print in China. Then everyone wonders why there are no U.S. jobs for their kids.

Paulo Godinho
Paulo Godinho

If every book is sold by amazon at half price, and everyone can now buy books half price, who is being injured?